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Americans United for Life Just released this analysis in an email, and has given permission for its dissemination. Here is AUL on the Hobby Lobby decision today:

Today’s decision: The “contraceptive” mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by requiring three closely held corporations to provide health insurance coverage for life-ending contraception in violation of the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners. Assuming that the government has a “compelling interest” in the mandate (which the Court does not hold, but just assumes for purposes of this case), there are less restrictive means to accomplish their goal.

Breakdown:

Today’s decision applies to closely held corporations (e.g. the Green and Hahn family businesses). The Court strongly explains that these corporations are people:
· “Corporations, ‘separate and apart from’ the human beings who own, run, and are employed by them cannot do anything at all” (36)
· “[P]rotecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.” (18)

It is based on the Court accepting as their sincere religious belief that these drugs and devices can destroy an embryo:
· “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients. If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price . . . If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.” (2)
· “Like the Hahns, the Greens believe that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs and devices that operate after that point” (14)
· “[T]he Hahns and Greens have a sincere religious belief that life begins at conception. They therefore object on religious grounds to providing health insurance that covers methods of birth control that, as HHS acknowledges [] may result in the destruction of an embryo. By requiring the Hahns and Greens and their companies to arrange for such coverage, the HHS mandate demands that they engage in conduct that seriously violates their religious beliefs.” (32)
· “the end that they find to be morally wrong (destruction of an embryo)…” (35)
· “HHS and the dissent note that providing the coverage itself would not result in the destruction of an embryo; that would occur only if an employee chose to take advantage of the coverage and to use one of the four methods at issue” (35)
· “The Hahns and Greens believe that providing the coverage demanded by the HHS regulations is connected to the destruction of an embryo in a way that is sufficient to make it immoral for them to provide the coverage.” (36)

The Court ruled the mandate failed the narrow-tailoring requirement of RFRA, pointing to the accommodation as a clearly less-restrictive means of accomplishing the Obama Administration’s stated goal. “HHS itself has demonstrated that it has at its disposal an approach that is less restrictive than requiring employers to fund contraceptive methods that violate their religious beliefs. . . . HHS has already established an accommodation for nonprofit organizations with religious objections.” (43)

The for-profit employers who object to all contraceptives (for example, many of the Catholic employers) should be protected by this ruling since the Mandate violates a sincere religious belief, even though it is not solely regarding the life-ending properties of some of these drugs and devices.
· The Court makes clear: “it is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial” (37) .
· And, most importantly, the Mandate (as applied to them) also clearly fails to be narrowly tailored means –e.g. non-profit Catholic employers are already “accommodated” with respect to all contraceptives.

The Court acknowledged the dangerous and radical view advanced by the Obama Administration: “Under HHS’s view, RFRA would permit the Government to require all employers to provide coverage for any medical procedure allowed by law in the jurisdiction in question—for instance, third-trimester abortions or assisted suicide. The owners of many closely held corporations could not in good conscience provide such coverage, and thus HHS would effectively exclude these people form full participation in the economic life of the Nation.” (45-46)

The decision does NOT decide the constitutionality/legality of the “accommodation.”
· “We do not decide today whether an approach of this type complies with RFRA for purposes of all religious claims.” (44)
· Footnote 40: “The principal dissent faults us for being ‘noncommital’ in refusing to decide a case that is not before us here. The less restrictive approach we describe accommodates the religious beliefs asserted in these cases, and that is the only question we are permitted to address.” (44)
· There is some troubling language. For example, there is this line on page 9 – “In addition, HHS has effectively exempted certain religious nonprofit organizations, described under HHS regulations as ‘eligible organizations,’ from the contraceptive mandate (emphasis added).”
o We do NOT think the “accommodation” is effectively an exemption – quite the opposite.
o Going forward the accommodation cases must emphasize that the “accommodation” still requires these companies to “arrange” for the coverage, given that they are providing the insurance plan.
· The Court does note that there could be another method (besides the “accommodation”) for achieving the government’s goal — namely, the government could provide the contraception coverage. That indicates that they could also find the accommodation fails to be narrowly tailored.
o “HHS has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion . . . . The most straight forward way of doing this would be for the Government to assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to any women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers’ religious objections.” (40-41)

Importantly, the Court did NOT rule on whether or not the Obama Administration’s stated goal was a compelling interest.
· In order to impose a substantial burden, the government must have a “compelling interest”
· “We find it unnecessary to adjudicate this issue” (pg 40) since it was not narrowly-tailored.
· Acknowledging there are arguments against this being a compelling interest: “The objecting parties contend that HHS has not shown that the mandate serves a compelling government interest, and it is arguable that there are features of ACA that support that view.” (39)
· And the Court acknowledges that “tens of millions” (page 11) have been exempted from the Mandate for non-religious reasons (including grandfathering) – a fact that undermines the government’s claim that forcing this Mandate is compelling (i.e. if it was compelling, they wouldn’t make those millions of exemptions).

The accommodation – whether or not it satisfies RFRA and the Constitution— may be decided by the Court next term.

Since the effect of today’s ruling is that the Obama Administration cannot impose its Mandate on family businesses with sincere religious objections, which it has not exempted, we should be prepared for the Obama Administration to, very soon, extend its “accommodation” at least to closely-held corporations. Because the “accommodation” applies to objections to all contraceptives (not limited to those with life-ending properties), we would expect the Obama Administration to “accommodate” for-profit employers for all the drugs/devices as well. At that point, it will be for the Green and Hahn families, and other family businesses, to decide whether the accommodation violates their conscience and/or whether they pursue litigation over it.

Some other good language from the majority opinion:

· “If the Hahns and the Greens and their companies do not yield to this demand, the economic consequences will be severe.” But the Court also recognizes that the Green and Hahn families would not want to drop insurance coverage for their employees altogether, also because of their religious beliefs: “[T]he Hans and the Greens and their companies have religious reasons for providing health insurance to their employees.”

· Life-affirming healthcare severely punished by Mandate: “If they insist on providing insurance coverage in accordance with their religious beliefs, the mandate clearly imposes a substantial burden on those beliefs” (38)

· “The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate [] against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.” (2)

· “As we have seen, RFRA was designed to provide very broad protection for religious liberty.” (17)

· The dissent, points out the majority, disagrees with RFRA. It doesn’t like the law that broadly protects religious liberty. “In its final pages, the principal dissent reveals that its fundamental objection to the claims of the plaintiffs is an objection to RFRA itself.” (48)

· “Our responsibility is to enforce RFRA as written, and under the standard that RFRA prescribes, the HHS contraceptive mandate is unlawful.” (49)

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cogdis

In the latest school shooting, President Obama sums up what many of us believe. From the NY Daily News:

It was the 74th shooting at an American school since the December 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School — and the 37th just this year, according to a tally by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America…

“This is not acceptable, this is not normal,” he said in a Tumblr chat. “We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens and it happens now once a week and it’s a one-day story.”
Gun violence in America, Obama said, is “off the charts.”

“There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this,” he said. “This is becoming the norm and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me . . . If public opinion does not demand change in Congress, it will not change.”

While some people think mental illness is the problem, Obama said, “The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people.” The problem, Obama said, is the availability of guns and “this country has to do a lot of soul searching.”

They really are going by in a blur, all of these school shootings. But blaming the guns misses the mark by a mile.

WHY are these shootings taking place, and WHY now?

We have tighter restrictions on gun purchase and ownership than in any time in America. There is a seeming proportionality between restrictions and violence, but even that cannot explain the motives. Where motive is concerned, there is no one, single, prognosticator. It is rather akin to looking at a painting and taking it all in at once. The components defy logical analysis of themselves and only function in a unified and organic wholeness with one another.

Obama is too myopically focussed on the gun to see the coarsening to life that he himself has championed his whole adult life. He fails to see the 57 million babies torn apart in abortion.

He fails to see the overwhelming majority (~80%) of post-abortive mothers with psychological sequelae.

He fails to see an African American community decimated by 15 million missing members from abortion.

He fails to see the victims of his health legislation who have lost their physicians and their health policies and consequently their cancer therapies.

He fails to see violent video games that are virtual training academies for the real-life violence in our schools.

He fails to see a medical community increasingly lazy and given to passive and active euthanasia.

He fails to see his own failures at stemming the tide of illegal drugs.

He fails to see his Hollywood pals and their culpability in producing a river of filth.

He fails to see the effects of pornography on the devaluation of both men and women.

He fails to see his role in destroying the economic girders that produce jobs, which give young people hope and purpose.

He fails to see how rampant teenage promiscuity factors into young people regarding one another more as objects that exist solely for one’s personal pleasure than as peers to be cherished, and cheerleads Planned Parenthood as they prey upon our children.

He fails to see the abdication of parental responsibility in raising children and overseeing their progress in school.

He fails to see that he presides over a nation that has lost everything:

Standing in the world.

Prosperity.

Sense of mission and purpose.

And worst of all, the very thing he campaigned to restore… HOPE.

So myopically focussed on the guns in this portrait of modern America is our president, that he sees nothing else. The proximal and distal causes all collapse into one dimension with him. Such a man is incapable of leadership, and as we have seen since the beginning, can only blame everyone else for the difficulties over which he presides.

But blaming Obama is as myopic as the president’s vision.

We have brought all of this upon ourselves. We live in a constitutional republic: limited powers to government with elected officials. We have been too narcissistic and hedonistic to care about the destruction wrought by these men and women who come from us, and are a reflection of us. We have lived lives, as a people, that are out of control and have raised children in a coarsened and calloused environment of our own making.

We did this, collectively.

The gun is an afterthought.

The only difference between the victims of Columbine, Sandy Hook, the other school shootings, and the 57 million butchered babies is that these children in school were wanted children.

That’s how to spell “Calloused” and “Hedonistic”.

That’s the America Obama can’t see.

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caduceus

This letter is addressed to every physician, scientist, and genetic counselor who believes in a eugenic agenda that targets the unborn specifically because of diagnosed genetic anomalies. It asks a series of penetrating questions that invite thoughtful response, and are not meant to be rhetorical.

The first question is: WHO?

Who taught you in medical school or graduate school that we doctors of science and medicine are the custodians of the human gene pool? Who was it that told you it was your job to keep that pool “clean?” They are serious questions, as I never encountered this philosophy, let alone mandate, in my premed studies at Columbia University, grad studies at St. John’s University, or post-doctoral studies at the City University of New York. Neither in the Ivies, Catholic, or Public universities did I ever encounter this mandate that has seized hold in our hospitals. Whence comes this thinking?

In my undergraduate studies in the 70’s and 80’s liberal arts professors taught extensively about the corruption of the Third Reich, and the eugenic agenda in Hitler’s camps. What we were never taught was that this agenda predated Hitler and arose within the medical community of the 1920’s in Germany. Regardless, the properly educated man or woman in American universities in the 70’s and 80’s was taught that eugenics was repugnant, Master Race and all of that stuff… It leads to the next question:

HOW?

How have we progressed from that understanding to where we are today? How is it that we have come to view genetic anomalies as so terrifyingly painful that those who bear them are deemed “incompatible with life,” which is strikingly similar to Hitler’s, “Life unworthy of Life?” On what basis do you make such an assessment, especially in the case of Down Syndrome? Is this rooted in firsthand clinical experience? It can’t be, as these children and adults are some of the most beautiful and happy individuals among us. How is it that we celebrate “diversity’ with near-fanaticism in society while we shoot for genetic homogeneity with similar near-fanaticism? That of course leads to the question:

WHAT?

What is it that you believe you have been entrusted with that leads to this neo-eugenics? When I went to graduate school, we were entrusted with great knowledge of biology across the spectrum of life, and in my course of studies, great knowledge of human and microbial physiology. We were entrusted with the knowledge and training in molecular biology, techniques so powerful that they have equal ability to destroy life on earth as well as advance the cause for life on earth. What we did not receive enough of was training in ethics, and not the sort of algorithm flow chart-based policy crap devoid of any training in metaphysics and human anthropology. I received all of that in undergrad, thank God. It was expected of us that we would use this great knowledge and power only for good, but therein lies the problem.

How do we define the good? Who defines the good? What is the good?

It’s easy for those of us who were obviously born with all of the genetic capability to earn doctorates to look down upon the disenfranchised with disdain. It comes from an insecurity within that says, “I can’t imagine living like that,” which is precisely the soil in which a eugenic mentality takes root. A little guilt added in to spice up the toxic brew, and here we are. But ask yourself this question.

If you rise above the genetics and epigenetics and consider the quality of life to which you appeal in your headlong pursuit of stamping out the unfit, what training do you have in anthropology, psychology, sociology, comparative religion, transcultural psychology, aesthetics, philosophy? How well did you apply yourself to these studies when you were in pre-med, or were these the B.S. courses you needed to endure on the way to medical or graduate school?

I would submit that most physicians and scientists I have met who are pro-choice are severely deficient in these areas, and as such cannot render an informed opinion as regards quality of life, and only speak from their very narrow and cramped worldview.

The new colonialism.

Of course, this all begs the further question:

When?

When was it that we stopped looking for cures and enhanced therapies, and started taking the cheap way out? When did death and non-existence become the answer, rather than healing and wholeness? When did we receive a mandate to kill every baby we could in order to aid the patient in avoidance of suffering?

I would submit that the answers reside in the radicalization of the liberal arts over the past thirty years, and in the watering down of the college curriculum in that time. It’s a formation issue, from my perspective, one that has left many of our finest and brightest physicians and scientists impoverished and without the necessary spiritual and intellectual protections against the power of our biotechnology to twist and distort its practitioners.

Do you disagree?

I’m open to feedback and answers to the questions

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line-in-the-sand

News today from Joan Frawley Desmond in the National Catholic Register that Nancy Pelosi will be honored with Planned Parenthood’s highest honor, the Sanger Award. From the article:

SAN FRANCISCO — On March 27, Planned Parenthood will bestow its highest honor on Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., minority leader in the House of Representatives and a self-identifying Catholic. The Margaret Sanger Award, named for the organization’s founder, who was a known proponent of eugenics, will recognize Pelosi for her legacy of “excellence and outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement.”

Desmond chose the right word for the award. It is a “legacy” recognition. The recipients are often feted for their lifetime achievement in advancing the agenda set forth by Margaret Sanger. Desmond also wastes no time in the article in getting down to brass tacks:

“Abortion and Catholicism never go together. When a national leader, such as Speaker Pelosi, conflates the two, it, unfortunately, can lead other Catholics — who believe there is no issue with pro-abortion beliefs and the practice of their Catholic faith — to miss the opportunity to reconcile their views with Church teaching,” Scot Landry, the director of Catholic Voices USA, told the Register.

“That is sad, a tremendous scandal in our Church and a disservice to all those who follow her example.”

In 2013, Cardinal Raymond Burke, who heads the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, stated in a published interview that Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law “must be applied” to determine whether Pelosi should receive the Eucharist.

“This is a person who, obstinately, after repeated admonitions, persists in a grave sin — cooperating with the crime of procured abortion — and still professes to be a devout Catholic,” said Cardinal Burke.

Read it all.

Cardinal Burke was quite correct, but back here in the States his admonition seems to have gone unheeded.

No More.

Planned Parenthood has changed the game with this recognition, and in a way that goes far beyond just Pelosi. This is about all of Pelosi’s fellow travelers from the Church: Biden, the Cuomo’s, the Kennedy’s, etc. They play as a team, and they have been winning as a team for generations with over 57 million dead babies to their credit. Add to that Obamacare and its malignancy, the HHS mandate, loss of religious freedom, advancing the culture of death in our schools… Why shouldn’t Planned Parenthood applaud such a malignant record? There is no way this could have been achieved without the Catholic squad on the Democrat team. Catholics such as the late “Lion of the Senate,” Teddy Kennedy, and Speaker of the House Pelosi have made Cecile Richards’ organization wealthy, powerful, and deadly. The reception of this award cannot go unaddressed by the Church. It is the final, defiant finger in the eye to the bishops.

These Catholic leaders have been at war with the Church, with God, and with humanity for generations. Apart from a few lions through the years, the meek and timid response of the bishops in the face of the rising tide of the blood of innocents has been scandalous in itself. I have been told by some that the concern is a loss of our tax-exempt status. If the bishops can’t see that looming on the horizon anyway, then they are blind, indeed. The only hope to save that status, and the souls of countless Catholics is to rouse themselves at this turn of events.

We are beyond conversation about reception of the Eucharist at this point. The question is why we cannot acknowledge that legislators who vote specifically for abortion funding (not general budgets containing abortion funding) but specific legislation for protecting, funding, and facilitating abortion are formal cooperators in abortion, and as such have already incurred automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication as such? On the consequences of this there can be no more doubt or debate. None of the Catholics in the party of death have defended the Church against the Obama administration’s war on religion. They are all in, all the way.

We have nothing to lose that we have not already lost, or will lose soon enough. That said, what is most frightfully at stake is the very moral authority of the bishops themselves. Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion Catholic legislators are celebrating a lifetime of malignant success in the middle of Lent. The time has come for the bishops to recognize that milestone with a pronouncement of their own, one that is long overdue.

We lift them up in prayer as we witness this mockery of all that is sacred.

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ap_andrew_cuomo_mi_130109_wg

In a speech reported in the Times Union this past Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated unequivocally that anyone who is pro-life, anti-homosexualist, and in favor of an undiluted Second Amendment has no place in the State of New York. From the Times Union:

You have a schism within the Republican Party. … They’re searching to define their soul, that’s what’s going on. Is the Republican party in this state a moderate party or is it an extreme conservative party? That’s what they’re trying to figure out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on in Washington. The gridlock in Washington is less about Democrats and Republicans. It’s more about extreme Republicans versus moderate Republicans.

… You’re seeing that play out in New York. … The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act — it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

If they’re moderate Republicans like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate — moderate Republicans have a place in their state. George Pataki was governor of this state as a moderate Republican; but not what you’re hearing from them on the far right.”

Here the Governor has made the case for his own impeachment, if for no other reason than he has demonstrated both an ignorance of the founding political philosophy of this nation and its Constitution, and has engaged in the sort of stigmatizing political rhetoric aimed at stripping whole swaths of citizens of their political rights that every tin horn dictator has used throughout recorded history

There are two immediately troubling issues with Governor Cuomo’s comments.

The first is that he defines people acting in accord with the tenets of his own Church as extremist and unwelcome in the state. That is a declaration of war on religion by the governor. This incendiary rhetoric is meant to turn New Yorkers against one another, breeding into the political bone marrow a strain of hatred and intolerance that will take generations to purge.

The second follows on the first. Such rhetoric, aimed at the consolidation of political power by stigmatizing people of faith as the source of society’s woes, is reminiscent of the tactics and rhetoric in Germany during the 1930’s and 40’s. Lest we forget, a people of faith were ridiculed and demonized, and driven from their homeland all in an attempt to scapegoat them for society’s woes. We know how that story ended, and we are fools to think that we are immune from a similar ending here.

The truth of the matter is that abortion hurts women badly, and there is an abundance of scientific and medical literature that chronicles the harm. But facts don’t matter to bloated political hacks who trample the rights of man underfoot. In truth, the governor and his party have become a grotesque caricature of a party that was once filled with noble men and women for whom words like “tolerance” and “inclusivity” were the means by which the cry of “Never again!” could become reality in the wake of the Holocaust.

We have a governor who looks at the many peaceful, prayerful marches for life and sees lepers, while abortionists who maim and kill women and men clad in pink underwear or only thongs and Indian headdresses marching in the Gay Pride parades are citizens of the first order.

The confusion on the part of the Governor resides in the notion that there is a difference between being elected to serve in a pluralistic society with representative government, and being appointed to rule. Men and women are not cattle to be driven or disposed of by the state as the state sees fit. Our leaders are elected to represent us, and if there are leaders in Albany who hold to views Cuomo finds repellent, then that’s just too bad. Those leaders arrived in Albany because they represent a constituency. In his address, Cuomo stated,

“I believe in my heart and I believe the people of this state believe that — forget the money and the campaign contributions and what people give — I’m going to do what I believe is right for them, I’m going to make the decision that I’m proud of.”

That is the duty of every public servant, and not a luxury for the Governor and his pals. The “extremists,” whom he despises have the same moral obligation of conscience as Cuomo, and our Founders established an Assembly and a Senate where the great issues of the day are to be debated, where deals can be made, and where final legislation is referred to the Governor for approval or veto. It would seem that Cuomo has grown impatient with that system and has moved to inciting hatred and fomenting violence in its nascent stage: stigmatizing the opposition.

This is a very deadly serious turn that has been taken in Albany. If the liberals in the legislature have any integrity at all, they will vote to censure this dangerous demagogue.

If they really espouse tolerance, inclusivity, and patriotism, they’ll take a walk over to the Governor’s mansion and tell Cuomo that it’s time for him to go.

Real New Yorkers can take the heat of debate and opposition.

Cowards incite violence.

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forgiveness1

To some of the finest people I’ve been privileged to know:

For decades I heard the call in prayer to stand up against the monstrous evil that has been unfolding in this nation since Roe v. Wade, which was handed down when I was twelve years old. For years I blinded myself to the horror welling up all about me. In part, the taunts of people outside of abortion clinics served to confuse my discernment. How could God be in such harsh and terrible language hurled at women about to do the unthinkable? For decades I simply could not wrap my mind around some of what I had heard in my youth.

So I sat it out on the sidelines and busied myself with becoming a scientist, husband, and father. I simply refused to consider the movement and tuned out anyone who approached me. All of that changed at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio when I attended a summer conference and met a woman who was there with her infant son, encapsulated in their own bubble of love and devotion. People looked on and smiled at this pure beauty.

I was on the way into a talk by Dr. Scott Hahn when I stopped and told this woman how many of us were taken by the extraordinary depth of love we all were witnessing. I’m not sure how it all started, but the upshot is that she told me her witness story, how she had an abortion two decades ago that left her unable to have children, of the pain, the broken marriage that followed, the repentance, remarriage to a prince and this recent adoption, and of this ministry called Silent No More, of which she was her state’s coordinator. I was so fascinated, riveted, that I decided I could always get the CD of Dr. Hahn (Sorry, Scott). In one of those rare moments of spiritual clarity, I felt like the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Were not our hearts burning within us as He walked with us on the road?”

I came away from my encounter with Nicole finally understanding that God was present in the movement in a way that is consistent with all I’ve ever known and experienced of Him. He was there in LOVE.

I took this woman’s phone number and in the ensuing years our families have become dear friends. I am Godfather to her second adopted son, and she has mentored me regarding post-abortive trauma. When I began the blog four years ago, she, Jill Stanek, and my wife were among a small circle of powerful women who encouraged and supported me every step of the way.

So what have I learned?

I can’t possibly put it all here. It’s all in the 800+ posts on the blog. However, there is one worth mentioning here. My friend has introduced me to other post-abortive women, and they to others… Women in the hundreds, and they all share one common trait.

They have a radiant beauty and joy about them that is unique. It is the unmistakeable beauty and radiance of a woman who has sinned against the core of her womanhood and who has been restored by Jesus to the fullness of her feminine beauty.

Every. Single. One.

They love much because their Lord has not only forgiven them, but revealed to them the fullness of their dignity, their great worth, and just how much He loves them.

Along the way, I’ve been stunned to see the depth of anguish they feel FOR abortionists. I’ve marveled at their prayers for the men and women who preyed on them in their fear and confusion, robbing them for profit of all that matters most in the world. They see beyond their own pain and loss, the hurt and agony inflicted on them, as well as their own roles. There is a relentless love in these women, a love that is infectious.

Some, it seems, are not so susceptible to the infectiousness.

Last week the notorious abortionist, Dr. Joseph Booker had a stroke in his shower and drowned. What a horrid death, symbolic on many levels. The outpouring of visceral hatred for this man on my blog, on Facebook, and at other pro-life outlets has been shocking. I began a Novena of Divine Mercy on my blog for Dr. Booker, and have been taken to task by several, including a Catholic Priest. Much of the language used by commenters could never be repeated here. However, it has shaken me to my core. For a jaded and cynical New Yorker, that’s quite an admission.

The hatred of what Dr. Booker did is definitely of God. The hatred of Dr. Booker is not.

I pray that Dr. Booker cried out to God for forgiveness and mercy as he lay drowning. Because I earnestly pray that he did so, I have set up the Novena of Divine Mercy for his soul. For some in our movement that is an affront to their sense of justice. How tragic. The vitriol has literally left me wondering how pervasive this sentiment is.

Only 30 people out of 5,000 FB friends joined in the Novena tonight. That says something.

Last month I was privileged to give a day of recollection at a seminary with Msgr. Phillip Reilly (fellow Brooklyn boy) of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. The man is a living saint, and reminded all that the main purpose of the pro-life movement is the salvation of souls, especially the mothers and abortionists. Why do some remain impervious to that? Why the hatred? Why wish the eternal horrors of hell on any human being? Do they really know what it is they seek?

There is a spiritual cancer in the body of this movement, one that I thought was pretty much dead, a death evidenced too by the love of the folks involved in 40 Days for Life and other sidewalk counselors. We need to eradicate this by identifying those with such bitter and angry hearts, and then minister to them until they heal. Whatever their anger is about, I suspect that it has roots elsewhere and that abortion is a proxy war for what is really going on. Whatever the cause it must be addressed.

How hard are such hearts that the radiant love and warmth of my post-abortive friends cannot thaw them? Since we are in Advent, a time of penance, when we are done with the Novena of Divine Mercy for Dr. Booker and his fellow abortionists I am doing one on the blog for all “pro-lifers” whose bitter sanctimony will land them in the same place they wish for Dr. Booker.

To Nicole, Georgette, Theresa, Mary, and all of the beautiful women of Silent No More and the other post-abortion healing ministries, this work thrives in no short measure because of you, your loving witness, and your willingness to build the body of Christ.

To the rest of the movement, we really need to take the time during Advent to pray for healing among our own. We simply cannot be so busy that we lose sight of the salvation of souls. If we are about God’s work, we had better be more than mere activists. 30 people out of 5,000 pro-life friends praying for an abortionist most in need of our prayers is as shocking and deplorable as the denunciations for doing so, especially contrasted with 10,000 hits in that same time on an article calling the bishops to task.

Our work loses a great deal if we lose sight of what Msgr. Reilly rightly points out as the purpose of it all:

The salvation of souls.

God Bless, and a Good Advent to All.

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The great effort to outlaw late-term abortions in Albuquerque, NM fell short last night. The efforts on the part of pro-life groups were nothing short of Herculean, and great credit goes to all who played a part. While this means that older babies with more capacity for pain will continue to die horrendous deaths in the late-term abortion capital, all is not loss.

We’ll be back.

Again, and again, and again…

We’ll be back with the positive message of hope and beauty, and with the truth of science and medicine, with the great hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One day, we shall overwhelm the good people of Albuquerque with that message of truth, and beauty, and hope; more than all of the money, and lies, and deceit of Planned Parenthood and Barak Obama. And when that day comes, when that great epiphany dawns on the city of Albuquerque, the city as a whole will begin to be transformed.

That day is coming.

So very many young people played a part. They are possessed of a passion, and vision, and moral courage that my generation never had, and never will.

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They’re warriors, and they’re beautiful.

Yesterday might have been a victory for the abortionists, but it was a costly one. It has roused even more young people, increased their determination, and steeled the resolve of the scientists and physicians such as myself who will no longer stay silent, play the game, and watch our disciplines cooped by activist thugs, corrupt politicians, and third-rate quacks in lab coats.

All of the clinical data are on our side, not theirs, and there are more and more of us stepping forward every day. The momentum is with us. That happens when truth begins to avalanche. It builds momentum and becomes irresistible. The days of hacking humans to death are numbered, and it will all happen nonviolently at the polls.

For now, words of comfort to those who fought this battle with fierce determination. They are from Theodore Roosevelt in an address he gave at the Sorbonne:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

God Bless you all.

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It is well-known that women who receive so-called poor prenatal diagnoses are pressured by genetic counselors and obstetricians to abort the baby. Often, as in the case of Down syndrome, the diagnosis comes with just a week or two left before the legal limit to have an abortion. In the midst of the shock and bewilderment, the feelings of inadequacy in the face of certain special needs (Feelings which are completely normal), often comes severe coercion by physicians who will refuse to treat unless an abortion is obtained. Mothers and fathers are asked why they would make their child suffer. Family and babies’ fathers threaten physical, financial, and emotional abandonment.

With Down syndrome over 90% of babies are aborted within this crucible.

I have heard first-hand accounts that are horrid, accounts where the truth of therapeutic options for prenatal surgeries, post-partum surgeries and therapies often make for very functional children. Even when such is not the option, there is hardly ever a referral to a support group for a different perspective.

Then there are the frequent horror stories of the baby aborted and found to have been perfectly healthy and normal. Modern medicine is on a eugenic rampage and the stories of these mothers and fathers need to be told.

Therefore, I am beginning a project to collect the stories of parents who have been victims of abusive physicians and genetic counselors, whether they aborted or carried the child to term. Both the triumph and tragedy need to be told. Names will be kept anonymous and stories will be printed only by permission and in the parents’ own words in an upcoming book. Please reach out to anyone you know with such a story, and then email me at:

gerardnadal60@gmail.com

All names will be kept strictly confidential, and only those stories will be published where written authorization to do so has been obtained.

Feel free to contact me with any and all questions.

God Bless.

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How times have changed. Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby, once the champions of keeping abortions safe for women, now oppose legislative proposals such as the new law in Texas designed to accomplish those very noble-sounding sentiments used to justify legalized abortion. Specifically, they oppose the suggestion that abortionists need to be board certified Ob/Gyns in good standing and that they have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Worse still, they champion allowing nurses and physician assistants perform these inherently dangerous surgeries.

Lifesite News has an excellent article on this. From the article:

The American College of Surgeons released the “Statement on Patient Safety Principles for Office-based Surgery Utilizing Moderate Sedation/Analgesia, Deep Sedation/Analgesia, or General Anesthesia.” These are guidelines for all forms of outpatient surgery including eye surgery, plastic surgery, and, yes, “reproductive” surgery.

In 2003, an ACS/AMA (American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association) had a meeting which was chaired by LaMar S. McGinnis, Jr., MD, FACS, of the ACS and Clair Callan, MD, of the AMA. The participants unanimously came to the conclusion that:

“Physicians performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital.”

The following groups all signed off on this regulation:

1. Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care
2. American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery,
3. American Academy of Dermatology,
4. American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,
5. American Academy of Ophthalmology,
6. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons,
7. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery,
8. American Academy of Pediatrics,
9. American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities,
10. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,
11. American College of Surgeons,
12. American Medical Association,
13. American Osteopathic Association,
14. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery,
15. American Society for Reproductive Medicine,
16. American Society of Anesthesiologists,
17. American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery,
18. American Society of General Surgeons,
19. American Society of Plastic Surgeons,
20. American Urological Association,
21. Federation of State Medical Boards,
22. Indiana State Medical Society,
23. Institute for Medical Quality-California Medical Association,
24. Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations,
25. Kansas Medical Society,
26. Massachusetts Medical Society,
27. Medical Association of the State of Alabama,
28. Medical Society of the State of New York,
29. Missouri State Medical Association,
30. National Committee for Quality Assurance,
31. Pennsylvania Medical Society, and
32. Society of Interventional Radiology.

In fact, there was not a single organization involved in the meeting that did not agree that board certification should be the standard for all outpatient surgery. It was unanimous.

Note that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists signed on to this, but will no doubt offer up an exception in the case of abortion. It’s always that way with abortion. The need for abortion and abortionists trumps the same set of humane standards practiced in every other branch of medicine. While there are an average of 1.2 million abortions annually in the US, all of which are elective surgeries, consider the following annaul numbers of US surgeries that are not elective, that are immediately life-saving:

Over 230,000 Coronary by-pass surgeries.
Average of 150,000 Breast Cancer Surgeries.
Over 100,000 colon and rectal cancer surgeries.

Just from that small sample, which does not include all other cancers, appendectomies, etc… do we see the surgeons militating for lower standards of care, less accountability, no admitting privileges? These are the truly essential, not optional, lifesaving surgeries.

And what of the cosmetic surgeons, whose procedures are elective? Do we see them militating for lower standards of accountability?

Why is it that the abortion lobby consistently militates for lower standards of care, of accountability? Could it be that a great many abortionists are failed physicians, common butchers?

Where is their care for women?

Where is their professional pride and self-respect?

Why not militate for the highest possible standard of care?

Wasn’t this supposed to be about taking abortions out of the hands of butchers and providing the highest standard of care for women?

Is there a reason why all abortionists should not only be PHYSICIANS (and not nurses and PA’s), but also trained OB’s who are board certified Ob/Gyns in GOOD STANDING?

When did it all change?

Would anyone from the other side care to engage in a dialogue by answering these questions?

Image via medicaldaily.com

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Whether pro-life, pro-choice, pro-family, or pro-homosexual, activists never speak on behalf of only themselves when speaking to issues. They speak for larger constituencies. For years there has been within the homosexual activist community a vocal group with a contempt for heterosexuals in general, and women in particular. “Breeders, ” is their word for us, sneered with a venomous contempt. I’ve heard it uttered since the 1980’s. Thus, the following story from LifeSite News comes as no surprise:

SYDNEY, November 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Women should be forced to abort their children for the next 30 years as a part of global population control, homosexual activist Dan Savage told Australian television on Monday.

Savage, whose anti-bullying program “It Gets Better” was heavily promoted by President Barack Obama, made the statement during a four-member panel during the “Festival of Dangerous Ideas.”

Audience member Lisa Malouf closed the program by asking, “Which so-called ‘dangerous idea’ do you each think would have the greatest potential to change the world for the better if it were implemented?”

After a moment’s thought, Savage replied, “Population control. There’s too many G-d d—-ed people on the planet.”

“You know, I’m pro-choice, I believe that women should have a right to control their bodies,” he added. “Sometimes in my darker moments, I’m anti-choice. I think abortion should be mandatory for about 30 years.”

The audience responded with overwhelming applause at the suggestion that the world’s women lose control of their fertility.

There is much, much more in the article. Get the rest here.

So very many thoughts come immediately to mind when I read such sentiments from activists such as Mr. Savage. First, if there are so many people in the world, why do the activists not elect to remove themselves voluntarily? Why must it be that someone else must die, that women be forced to abort their children for the next 30 years, or be forcibly sterilized? Of course, death is never the answer, in any constituency. However, note who Mr. Savage did not mention.

Why has Savage not gone on a rant against the number of people in the U.S. who live with HIV/AIDS and the total cost of their care, especially as he is on record as stating that the majority of HIV cases fall disproportionately among gay/bi men? If one considers the CDC data indicating that lifetime cost of the new HIV cases diagnosed in 2009 will come in at $16.6 BILLION {for a mostly sexually transmitted disease}, or if one accepts the CDC projected lifetime cost per HIV patient of $367,134 (2009 dollars) and multiplies by the 1,148,200 HIV/AIDS patients over the age of 13 that CDC estimates to be living in the US, the total cost is a staggering $421.54 BILLION

No word from Mr. Savage on his constituency. However, by the reckoning of his fellow travelers, if it’s carbon or fiduciary footprinting that is hurting the developing nations, 421 billion dollars could do a great deal of good.

Instead, it must be someone else who dies, someone else who pays the heavy price for the self-loathing of the planetary messiahs. These are frightfully dangerous people, and the wild applause of the audience Mr. Savage was addressing indicates that the societal depravity that makes him a sought-after guest has metastasized significantly.

The grave danger of this new century is that the very vocal, one-world order folks who are on an inexorable march are also the same folks who are busy promoting and legislating one-child policies, forced sterilizations and abortions, and setting up the collapse of the world economy by the middle of this century as populations completely implode. Graver still, there is no longer a world superpower that stands for human dignity. That used to be the United States, who now ties “reproductive health” packaging to US foreign aid in developing nations. Those packages mandate abortion and contraception for cultures that want no part of them.

All of this is driven by the political left, which includes the activists such as Mr. Savage. It isn’t paranoid or conspiratorial to see the political alliances before our very eyes, to see common cause amongst the disparate groups on the left and the social engineering that has toppled the greatest civilization the world has ever known.

A new Dark Age is settling upon us, and it is truly cause for alarm. Look to China’s 336 million forced abortions for proof. While we must use the political machine to assert our values, the values that built the civilization which gave birth to that political machine, we must also become ardent evangelists. The ultimate cause behind this darkness is a people who have lost sight of their great dignity.

The savages of this world are busy spewing hatred and self-loathing and the Church is losing ground, rapidly. The only antidote to their venom is the Gospel, the good news of our true identity. In the Catholic Church today, that light burns dimly under a bushel. That needs to change in dramatic fashion.

Mr. Savage and his fellow travelers have seen to that imperative.

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The battleground for interceding on behalf of babies 20 weeks and older has shifted to New Mexico. Some have questioned why a ban after 20 weeks. It’s because that’s where the most demonstrable evidence shows babies in utero are capable of feeling pain. Let me stress that it is NOT the limit at which they can experience pain. We do have evidence from earlier in pregnancy.

So why draw the line here (or at all)?

It is shifting the debate by focussing the public on the fact that babies in utero do feel pain. It personalizes them. It makes them “human” for those who hitherto have doubted the humanity of the baby. That’s a conversation changer.

It’s a game changer.

In New Mexico, Albuquerque to be exact, they are the late-term abortion capital of the nation, and there is a vote coming soon to enact restrictions on when these especially horrid procedures may be done. Please help these folks get out the vote. Send money, and most of all, prayers.

God Bless all those in this fight for justice, and for those who crafted this beautiful message.

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According to Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue there have been 44 abortion clinic closings this year. That would drive the total number of clinic closings since 1992 close to 75% of that year’s total. That is a monumental achievement for the pro-life movement, the fruit of decades of hard work by thousands. For as monumental as that achievement is, the persistently high numbers of annual abortions in the U.S., and California’s passing into law permission for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives to perform first trimester surgical abortions suggest that we may have only succeeded in picking the low-hanging fruit from the abortion tree.

In the chart below, Planned Parenthood’s statistician, the Guttmacher Institute, reports on the annual number of abortions since 1973. Notice that between 1990 and 2013 abortions fell from a high of 1.6 million per year to a steady 1.2 million per year. That’s a 25% decrease in the numbers of abortions in the same time period that we have closed close to 75% of abortion clinics. The numbers simply do not add up. There has not been anything close to a corresponding decrease in abortions. There is a very good reason for that, one that is daunting to contemplate.

US-stats-2013-chart-for-web

Many hospitals are now performing abortions. This new development, attested to by several physicians in personal communication, will make the fight so much more difficult. Currently, pro-life activists keep watch on clinics and record every instance when an ambulance is called in for a botched abortion. As hospitals take up the slack for closed clinics, there will be no such capability for monitoring centers, as patients are already in-house. Worse still non-physicians will now perform aspiration abortions in California, which accounts for approximately 29% of all abortions in the U.S.

The simple truth is that the opponent has adjusted to our tactics. The butchers such as Gosnell needed to be put away for their crimes. Now the challenge will be how to monitor the hospitals as they make a fundamental philosophical shift by embracing abortion in the era of Obamacare. One approach will be to step up the education of women regarding the dangers of abortion, and their betrayal by cynical governors such as California’s Jerry Brown and New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

Forty years ago the argument in favor of legalizing abortion was that women would have real physicians performing safe, regulated medical procedures. How many women are aware that many abortionists are not even trained in Ob/Gyn? Now, the abortionists won’t even be physicians at all. Somehow the assurance that a qualified physician is mere feet away should an artery be nicked or a uterus punctured doesn’t sound like the fulfillment of the 1973 promises.

One thing is for certain. This week Jerry Brown opened a new front in the war, and with new weapons and tactics. We must meet him and defeat this new approach with smart and innovative approaches of our own. In this, we must recognize that the climb just became steeper for the pro-life movement. With love and with prayer, with great intellect and patient persistence, we will consign this ugly episode in the life of our nation to the dustbin of history.

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Conscientiously Objecting to Obamacare

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In the movie Becket, King Henry II of England is trying to raise money for a war with the French and imposes a tax on the Church. After strenuous objections by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other bishops, Henry’s new Chancellor of England, Thomas Becket, barks that it is pointless to continue the discussion. Then, with sweetly sinister cordiality he states,

“The law has given us the means of coercion, we will use it.”

So it is with the pending enrollment in Obamacare. Those who refuse to be enrolled will eventually be fined by the IRS with a fine that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled is not a fine, but a tax. The mgovernment has given itself the means of coercion, and it will use it.

Many pro-lifers believe that they cannot in good conscience pay for healthcare that pays for abortion. Many will declare their refusal to cooperate, no matter what.

Civil disobedience.

While that sounds good, and is most noble, there are hard truths to consider for any contemplating such an action. First, there is the issue of a third of a billion federal dollars annually given to America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. We already fund abortion through this malignant giant.

Then there are all of the states that use federal and state tax revenues to fund abortion through Medicaid. In New York State, more than 40,000 Medicaid-funded abortions are performed annually.

School districts all across the country partner with Planned Parenthood, using tax revenues and school facilities to promote the organization and its agenda.

The list goes on and on, but suffice it to say that Obamacare is not the first large-scale government funding or promotion of abortion. So what is to be the point of civil disobedience here, especially when the government will simply garnish one’s salary through the same confiscatory practice that is used to collect taxes in arrears?

Focussing on the abortion dimension may be the least of all pro-life considerations in this debate, as it ignores the much larger issue of rationing healthcare and the subsequent denial of services to desperately ill people. That is an issue that so very many pro-lifers refuse to engage, and in so doing they alienate large constituencies with whom we could build effective coalitions. It is the trap of being more anti-abortion than being wholistically pro-life.

So what is to be gained by declaring one’s disobedience to a law that gives the government the power to simply garnish wages? Apart from a moral victory, I suspect not much. However, there a plenty of ambivalent, and outright pro-choice folk who stand to suffer greatly under Obamacare as premiums skyrocket to over $20,000 in many markets, who will be denied lifesaving therapies as has been the case for years in Oregon.

It seems that the only way to defeat Obamacare is to rise up at the polls. We’ll get there one way or the other. When we do, it will be less through statements of noncompliance that fail to stop the confiscatory power of the government and more through the suffering of people broken financially by Obamacare’s obscene costs, and emotionally by its heartless parsimony.

Until then the law has given Obama the means of coercion, and he will use it.

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The Problem with Pope Francis

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The people’s pope has been making waves ever since he rode back to his hotel on the bus and tried to pay his bill. False modesty? A swipe at those who came before him in office? Refreshing humility? Inverted pride? There have certainly been no shortage of critics, nor fawning, uber-liberal commenters who have weighed in on the new pontiff.

Are we seeing a shift in teaching, or perhaps a different set of priorities from below the equator? Watching Francis, it has become clear that the Jesuit sitting on the Chair of Peter has jolted the exposed fault lines in the post-Vatican II church. Specifically, by claiming that we don’t need to discuss the issues of sex, abortion, and homosexuality all the time, the pope has carved out awareness of other equally pressing issues, such as the grinding poverty that characterizes life below the equator that affects the world from whence he comes.

In the process, he has accentuated the differences between orthodox Catholics and the liberal/anarchic wing of the church above the equator. The liberal/anarchic wing adopted the issues surrounding global poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc. Not surprisingly, these are the issues championed by the socialist left, which also promotes radical feminism, abortion on demand, gay marriage, and sexual licentiousness: issues near and dear to left-leaning Catholics.

The orthodox tend toward traditional families, pro-life ethics, and a conservative political agenda. If there is a problem with the orthodox, it is that we have allowed concern for the poor to become “their” issue, and not “ours”. The criteria that will be used in our judgement were outlined by Jesus in Matthew 25. The corporal works of mercy are not options.

The truth is that our Catholicism is somewhat bifurcated in the Northern Hemisphere. Essential elements and obligations of the faith have been politicized.

While this bifurcation is very real, the issues of sex, family, marriage, and abortion have a far greater catalytic power at tearing down Weatern Civilization than the issue of grinding poverty, which was omnipresent throughout Western Civilization’s rise. It’s difficult to adress the issues of poverty in a culture where raging hedonism is the new civic virtue.

If there was one nuanced perspective missing in the Pope’s highly nuanced and controversial interview, it is that.

So, when Francis demonstrates a humility whereby he eschews the trappings of office, when he says that we need to expand our focus, he offers us the opportunity to reflect beyond the very real issues that we champion within orthodoxy here in the north. He also offers us the opportunity to reclaim something that has been lost along the way.

However, when we are addicted to tearing our brothers and sisters apart in the womb, using our brothers and sisters as objects for pleasure, and spitting on the natural order created by God, it’s a tough sell to get people behind an authentic vision of being our brother’s keeper.

Perhaps by speaking from within the issues coopted as issues by the left, maybe… just maybe… this pope may be able to break through. Let’s hope so, and let’s lift Francis up in prayer as he tries.

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Having spent yesterday reading the secular news accounts of Pope Francis’ recent comments about abortion and homosexuality, and having also read reports from the uber-right, it is distressing to see that people either can’t read or can’t think. This Pope is being undermined left and right.

Literally.

For the rest of us, we can read the Holy Father’s interview here.

According to the illiterati, the Holy Father doesn’t think abortion and homosexuality are worthy of much time and attention, and besides, as he has already said, who is he to judge? For the left, this distortion serves the purpose of eliminating the only significant barrier to the homosexualist and abortion agendas: the Roman Catholic Church. For those to the right of Mussolini, it serves to discredit “the Jesuit”.

In context, here are the Pope’s remarks, begining with the interviewr’s question which frames the response:

I mention to Pope Francis that there are Christians who live in situations that are irregular for the church or in complex situations that represent open wounds. I mention the divorced and remarried, same-sex couples and other difficult situations. What kind of pastoral work can we do in these cases? What kinds of tools can we use?

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

 “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

“I say this also thinking about the preaching and content of our preaching. A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing. The homily is the touchstone to measure the pastor’s proximity and ability to meet his people, because those who preach must recognize the heart of their community and must be able to see where the desire for God is lively and ardent. The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

Nothing in that quote contradicts the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s own document, Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, promulgated under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

The Pope is also quite correct in saying that we must first address the wounds of people before hammering away at many of the moral issues, and here is where things get thorny.

Doctrinally, dogmatically, the Pope is on solid ground, a groundwork laid by the giants who came before him, from Pius XI to Benedict XVI. He does not need to reformulate what has been articulated so clearly and beautifully. Francis has been sent to show us how to minister to a broken humanity in a way that may well be alien to those whose only approach is moralizing. It begins with the language he employs regarding accompanying the sinner along the road of his life.

That means accepting the person where they are at and then walking the road with them. It means eating and drinking with those whose behaviors are profoundly disturbing to us. Working with street kids for seven years at Covenant House in the 1980’s was a formative experience for me, especially when so many had worked in prostitution. What moved the kids the most was the fact that we were the first people, for many of them, who were nonjudgmental and simply loved them where they were at.

I get where Francis is going with the Church. If John Paul II and Benedict charted the course, Francis is our guide.

Encyclicals are neat, crisp, and clean. Employing their contents with love and not bludgeoning people into submission with them will be the hallmark of this papacy. It is work fraught with the perils of which the Pope speaks when he talks of confessors being too lax or too rigid.

The same goes for the laity.

To those on the right who fear that the situational ethics that tore the Church apart Post-Vtican II has now made its way to the chair of Peter, they need to breathe deeply and accept authentic pastoral direction from the chief shepherd. After all, the Pope is right, we can’t only and always talk of homosexuality, abortion, and contraception. We must address the woundedness that gives rise to these ills.

We in the pro-life movement have prayed for a cure at the root of it all.

Will we now stop our ears and shout down the answer to those prayers?

Will we?

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