By Deal Hudson
Bryan Cones, the managing editor at U.S. Catholic, is upset that I used the word “fake” to describe Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Two weeks ago, I criticized those organizations for supporting the Senate health-care bill containing abortion funding.
At the Huffington Post, Cones calls me out:
Hudson appoints himself the arbiter of what is Catholic, and if you support health care reform that in any way might lead to an abortion paid for with public funds, you are not one.
Cones stresses his disagreement with me in a lively style: “If he wants to have a debate about whether I’m a Catholic, I say: Bring it, Deal.” You have to love that spirit, but Cones misses the point. I’m not interested in arguing over whether he is a Catholic, but whether it is “Catholic” to support health-care reform containing federal funding for abortion.
I argue that if the health-care bill contains federal funding for abortion — no matter what’s contained in the rest of the bill — Catholics in the Congress must oppose it. To support such a bill constitutes directcooperation with this serious moral evil (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270; Evangelium Vitae 74).
Why? Because there is no doubt that federal funding would lead to an increase of 200,000 or more abortions each year. According to a 2007 Guttmacher study, “18-35 percent of women who would have had an abortion continued their pregnancies after Medicaid funding was cut off.” This is taken from studies published over the past 20 years.
But Cones finds a way around these hard facts, arguing:
Catholics are free to hold different positions on how the right to life should be pursued in the public sphere. Our common goal is no abortions; our paths can differ.
True enough: The paths may differ. But at some point they must merge — that point being the certainty that more children will die as a result of a specific piece of legislation, i.e., the Senate health-care bill.
Cones’s view of the facts on the ground about abortion is tenuous. He claims, without citing any sources, “There is plenty of evidence that making abortion illegal actually does little to prevent it.” I wonder, then, how he explains the explosion in the abortion rate since Roe v. Wade, if legalization was not a factor.
Cones simply ignores the impact of abortion funding: “Catholics who argue that access to affordable health care and other progressive social policies will reduce abortion are on solid moral ground.” Whatever truth that may contain will surely be offset by the findings of the Guttmacher study — namely, a significant number of women will not give birth to their children if the government pays for abortions.
Cones, not surprisingly, cites the agreement of the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious with his position: “I’m not the only Catholic who is willing to do the difficult moral math and judge health care reform worth the difficulty surrounding abortion funding.”
Cones mistakenly thinks the “moral math” of the health-care bill is “difficult,” which it is not. Perhaps his insistence on inserting complexity into the argument is the reason he hasn’t come to the right conclusion. But there is a deeper problem with the way Cones thinks about the issue. He considers my position on abortion — that it is a “make-or-break issue” — the “clumsiest of moral arguments.” By clumsy, I assume Cones means my position is one-sided, out of balance with his perspective. This is due to the fact that Cones, evidently, does not recognize a hierarchy of values, nor the weight of non-negotiable issues. It’s not a question of balance but of priorities.
Cones makes the same mistake when he pits the human “right” of “access to health care” against the right to life. “Catholic teaching has long recognized access to health care as a human (not merely civil) right.” These “rights” are in no way comparable, especially in a health-care bill that treats abortion as “preventative care.” Indeed, the Senate health-care bill doesn’t recognize the right to life at all — doesn’t that bother Bryan Cones?
This gem was sent to us early this morning, and I can’t help but add a comment or two being a Catholic convert myself and a regular usher at my church in Georgia. All Catholics please take note: the Lord must, indeed, have hand selected this Catholic church for Robin on this most special eve. She was warmly greeted, included even, and felt a kinship of spirit with all those gathered to worship the birth of Christ. Please, when someone “new” enters your parish church, remember that you’ve no idea what it may have taken to place them on your doorstep, so open your hearts wide and allow Christ in you to be the messenger that “all is well, abide here with us.”
By Robin of Berkeley
American Thinker contributor
As a Jewish child, I never celebrated Christmas. I found out what I was missing on Christmas Eve, 1973.
My high school boyfriend Brian invited me to join his family for their celebration. The event floored me. It wasn’t just the illuminated tree, the music, and the pleasure of opening gifts. It was the power of the holiday to transform Brian’s ordinary family.
Laughing, singing hymns, praying — they were absolutely radiant. I had never seen them so joyful. And in their presence, I felt joyful, too.
That was my one and only Christmas experience, and it never occurred to have another one. But this year’s Christmas felt different.
I’m now a conservative who has purchased her first Bible. I am blessed with many new conservative friends in person and online, most of whom are religious. Given that God has taken center stage in my life, I decided it was time to celebrate another Christmas.
Having been rejected by the Berkeley Episcopalians, I remained undeterred in my pursuit of a Christmas Eve service. I searched the internet and found a large Catholic church the next town over. My plan: come early and sit inconspicuously in the back row.
For one, I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. I’d never been to church, and I had no idea what to do.
Also, I hadn’t told my husband Jon that I was going, so I didn’t want to bump into anyone we knew. While I felt bad not telling him, Jon rolls his eyes every time he sees me reading the Bible. I didn’t want anyone raining on my parade.
With my plan firmly in place, I was as excited as a little kid about attending the 5:00 pm Family Mass. I couldn’t wait to see the Nativity play, both for the adorable children and because I was a bit fuzzy on the plot.
I arrived, parked, found my way into the chapel (is that what it’s called?), and sat down in the last pew. As I watched the immaculately dressed families pouring in, I noticed my first faux pas — a fashion one. I had dressed all in black, while the other women looked resplendent in festive colors, especially red.
I wear a lot of black. It befits not only my salt-and-pepper hair, but also my somewhat edgy New York Jewish vibe. But here, I looked positively funereal. Luckily, the only witness to my gaffe was a very shy five-year-old girl sitting next to me, who looked pretty in pink.
Needing to use the bathroom, I planned to slip discreetly in and out of the room. After I wandered around aimlessly, the priest himself escorted me to the restroom. I’m sure we were a sight: me in black; him adorned in crisp white robes.
In the bathroom, a woman smiled and introduced herself as Cathy (everyone was so nice and friendly, a radical departure from typical Berkeley life). She asked me whether the other priest was feeling better. The following conversation ensued:
Me: I don’t know. I’ve never been to this church before.
Cathy: Oh, really? Where do you usually worship?
Me (stammering) Well. Actually. I’ve never been to a church before.
Cathy: (puzzled) Oh. Are you here to see one of the children perform?
Me: No. (I want to give her a clear explanation, but given that I don’t know why I’m here, my mind goes blank.)
Cathy: (thinking deeply) So, you’ve never been in a church but decided to come here on Christmas Eve.
Me: Yes. (Her explanation was simpler than the one I would have given: “I’m a cultural Jew who’s never been to a temple and then I practiced Buddhism for twenty years, but that left out the God part. And then I became a conservative and now I have all these beautiful Christians in my life, so I decided to attend a mass, and the Berkeley Episcopalians didn’t want me, so here I am.”)
Cathy looked at me strangely, but finally uttered an enthusiastic “Good!”
Given that my plan to blend in wasn’t working, I headed back to the shelter of my pew. I buried my head in the — whatever they call it — the book of songs that’s in the wooden cabinet. (Catholics have a name for everything, and I know none of them.)
I was jolted by a tap on my shoulder. A stressed-out woman who looked to be in charge asked, “Will you hand these out?”
Incredulous, I could not speak. She repeated, slowly now, as though addressing a child: “Will you stand in the aisle and hand these out when people come in?” As if in a dream, I rose from my fortress and took the hundred or so pink brochures while she sped away. I opened the booklets and saw that they contained lyrics to the hymns.
Trying not to panic, I thought, “I can do this. I’ll just imitate the other ushers.” I looked around to observe the others in action. But there were no other ushers. I was the usher.
Given that I had never been in a church, I was clueless about my role. Should I act like a perky WalMart greeter: “Welcome to St. Luke’s!”? But how could I, who basically wandered in off the street, welcome parishioners to their own church?
Okay, I thought, don’t freak out. I can do this. As a family walked in, I started to say, “Hello, would you like a…?” and then paused. What were these brochures called, anyway?
I racked my brains for words used by my new Catholic friends: Eucharist, Communion, Homily. So, what do they call the music?
Finally I just said, “Hi, would you like the music for today’s mass?” which was a mouthful and caused some confused looks, but it was the best I could do.
The next thing I knew, I was the go-to person. People started asking me questions: how long would the mass last? Was that row reserved? Of course, I couldn’t answer any of them.
Suddenly, I started laughing at the absurdity of my plight. I realized that God had a playful sense of humor…and that he seemed to be nudging me right into the fold.
I then saw Cathy, from the bathroom, standing in the back watching me with amusement. Wearing some type of robe herself, she clearly was a lay leader in the church. She appeared to find my transformation from clueless visitor to usher quite the mystery.
Just as my gig was winding down, the coordinator returned. With most of the congregation seated, she now wanted me to encircle the entire church, ensuring that everyone had a brochure.
When she saw my look of raw panic, she took the brochures out of my hands and did the job herself.
I decided to go out into the vestibule for a few minutes to get my bearings back. After taking a few deep breaths with my eyes closed, I was already feeling better.
When I opened my eyes, I saw that a crowd had formed in front of me. Someone politely asked me to move. I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I was simply standing in front of a pretty fountain.
I moved away, and observed that the congregants touched the water in the fountain and crossed themselves. Note to self: Blocking the holy water is another church no-no.
The service was about to begin, so I sat down and watched. It was a magical night, as enchanting as Christmas Eve with Brian’s family. I especially loved observing the children, adorned in their holiday finest. Rather than squirming and fussing, they were riveted. They, like me, knew that this night was special.
To my amazement, the painfully shy child sitting next to me came out of her shell. She started singing her heart out. She was even praying like a pro.
Beyond the music and pageantry, what moved me the most was being with hundreds of people who loved God. Maybe some were questioning his presence or feeling abandoned. But they showed up, and that’s half of life.
It was a stirring night for this wandering Jew who has traveled from east to west, from Left to Right. As the Sufi poet Hafiz wrote, “This moment in time God has carved a place for you,” and sitting in the sanctuary, I felt that place.
Even though I didn’t know the right words, or the hymns, or how to pray, it didn’t matter. All the differences among people — race, class, politics, even religion — vanished. Faith, I realized, is the ultimate uniter.
And in a heartbeat, I understood why leaders from Marx to Mao try to keep people away from God, and why they will always fail. I flashed to an image of those mothers who somehow find the superhuman strength to lift up a car and free their children.
On Christmas Eve, I learned that this same unstoppable power exists inside all of us, especially when we stand together. As Jesus himself taught, faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain.
A frequent AT contributor, Robin is a psychotherapist and a recovering liberal in Berkeley.
A LifeNews story on a Newsweek interview with Speaker Nancy Pelosi will you leave wondering why Newsweek would publish comments that would only make sense if they were uttered by 7th graders in their religion class. For the most powerful woman in America to sound so foolish is embarrassing not just to her but to the institution she leads, the House of Representatives.
Here are the money quotes from the interview with Eleanor Clift:
‘I have some concerns about the Church’s position respecting a woman’s right to choose,’ Pelosi responds. ‘I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith.
‘I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions,’ she continues. “And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.’
It’s hard to know where to start. Let’s just say Pelosi’s equating of a moral rule with the denial of free will is the kind of nonsense she should have left behind long, long ago. Need we remind her, moral rules are possible, nay, even necessary, because we have free will.
“Yes, Speaker Pelosi, women, like all men, have the “opportunity to exercise their free will” in response to any Church teaching, including those like “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
“The expectation that we should “follow” those moral principles and imperatives requires us to exercise free will in a certain way. We are no less free because do as God asks. Some would even say our freedom consists in just that.
By Deal Hudson
LifeNews.com is reporting that the Catholic Health Association does NOT endorse the Senate health care bill and the abortion language crafted by Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA). In an interview with Catholic News Service, CHA president, Sr. Carol Keehan, explained, ‘The Catholic Health Association has not endorsed the health legislation that was passed by the Senate . . . . nor did it endorse the Casey compromise language that was later opposed by the bishops’ conference.”
Keehan is backtracking from a previous position at odds with the expressed position of the USCCB, which received a great deal of attention over the past few days as the result of a New York Times article by David Kirkpatrick, “Catholic Group Supports Senate on Abortion Aid.”
Here is more of Keehan’s backtracking — she was obviously upset with the NYT’s story:
“There is not a shred of disagreement between CHA and the bishops,” Sister Carol said. “We believe there is a great possibility and probability that in conference committee we can work toward a solution that will prevent federal funding of abortion.”
She told CNS that CHA, representing over 600 Catholic hospitals, ‘brings a lot of expertise with funding structures in the marketplace’ to the debate and hopes to ‘bring that to bear’ during the conference committee process.
“I felt they [the Senate] were making progress and were getting where we needed to be,” she said. “I understand that it doesn’t make a good story to say (CHA and the USCCB) are working together. But it would have been an honest story.”
Who’s being honest here? Sister Keehan’s statement on December 17 contained the following:
“[N]ow that a public health insurance option is no longer on the table, we are increasingly confident that Senator Casey’s language can achieve the objective of no federal funding for abortion. . . . It is our understanding that the language now being written would prohibit federal funding of abortion,” Keehan said.
The problem for Keehan is that the only groups who agreed with her view of the Senate bill were Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholic Democrats. They are all organizations who have repeatedly demonstrated their allegiance to the Democratic Party and the Obama White House by subordinating the non-negotiable life issues to political success.