The Battle Is Not Over the How

In a recent article in The National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Winters criticized vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for failing to present a plan to help the poor, and purported to criticize Vice President Joe Biden for not presenting a way to protect the unborn.  I found the usual obfuscation of Catholic moral teaching that comes from the Catholic left. The key part of the article was this:

To be clear, and to repeat: The moral obligation to help the poor is absolute. The moral obligation to protect human life is absolute. How we achieve such help and such protection, in the world of practical political and legal realities, requires prudential judgment in both instances. If Mr. Ryan were saying, “My way of helping the poor is better than yours,” that would be one thing, but he has offered no way of helping the poor just as Mr. Biden has offered no way of protecting the right to life of the unborn.

First, Mr. Ryan has not written off the poor or failed to offer a way to help the poor. Winters’ statement is false. Ryan has offered a rational plan to prevent the financial collapse of a number of government programs that help the poor, while also proposing real ideas about real solutions to make the United States economy stronger, which is the surest way to help the poor in the short term as well as in the long term, while also giving the poor the dignity and independence that comes with honest work.

However, Mr. Winters is not only wrong about Paul Ryan’s economic plan, his statement begs the question about the vice president’s morally decadent position on abortion. It is not just that Joe Biden doesn’t have a plan to protect the unborn. More to the point, he won’t have one. Biden is one of the most enthusiastic supporters of abortion on demand, not to mention same sex marriage, although, as he likes to tell us, he is a practicing Catholic in good standing. Ditto for self professed practicing Catholic Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House of Representatives, who is equally robust in her support of abortion and same sex marriage.

While there are continuing discussions within the Church among those working in the pro life apostolate about tactics in the battle for life and marriage, the real battle being fought daily by the Church in the public square is not simply about how we end the killing of millions of unborn children, or how we protect the sanctity and stability of marriage. The bloody hand to hand combat in the public arena is about the defense of a fundamental moral truth: Abortion and same sex marriage are always inherently evil, and if these evils are legally and socially sanctioned and promoted then human life will not be protected and the poor will not be helped. Indeed, the poor are the chief victims of abortion and the destruction of marriage. The mission of the Catholic Church in this battle for life and marriage is to promote that fundamental truth and defend it from the attacks from the other side, including Mr. Winters’ brethren on the Catholic left, and to persuade them to embrace that truth.

The Catholic left plays dumb on the central fact that the Democratic Party, which is the party where they find a political home, praises Roe v. Wade and endorses both abortion on demand and same sex marriage. Clearly there are no discussions within that party about ending abortion or protecting genuine marriage. Further, neither Vice President Biden nor Representative Pelosi, who are among the highest ranking Catholic members of the Democratic Party, is genuinely involved in any public discussion of the evil of abortion, euthanasia, and same sex marriage. If they genuinely thought that these were inherently evil and had the courage of their convictions, they would fight laws that encourage and protect such evil acts, and condemn them in the public arena, including within their political party. But they do not.

They don’t write articles or books condemning these evils. They don’t appear at pro life events. They don’t support legislation or government programs that would restrict abortion on demand or even terminate federal funding of abortion. Nor do they defend genuine marriage between a man and a woman against same sex marriage. They simply refuse to admit that these acts are inherently evil, and, in open defiance of the clear teaching of the Catholic Church in which they claim to be in good standing, they enthusiastically endorse the Democratic Party’s immoral position on these offenses against God and nature.

But one cannot honestly stand for the protection of human life and assisting the poor, and not directly oppose Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand, as well as same sex marriage. Nor can one support a political party that endorses these evils. It may well be that support for a government poverty program reasonably operated is morally proper, but it does not, in some bizarre quid pro quo trade off, give one a moral license to sanction the killing of innocent human life or the corrupting of marriage into a legal structure for immoral unions.

To be clear and to repeat: The strategy and tactics used to end abortion and protect genuine marriage may involve prudential decisions, but the right to be born and to die a natural death, and be nurtured and loved by a father and a mother is absolute, and not subject to debate. And that is what the fight for life and marriage that is raging in this country is all about. Not mere tactics and strategies.

So, if Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the other accomodationists of the Catholic left want to fulfill their obligations to protect human life and to help the poor they will quit their trimming, and use their talents to publicly and enthusiastically join the fight for the immediate end of legal abortion, and for the protection of marriage as a union of only a man and a woman.  Caution. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

Robert J. Gieb has practiced probate law in Ft. Worth, Texas for forty years. He is local counsel for Catholics United For Life of North Texas.
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