Sunday, October 14, 2007

Open and respectful dialogue?

In his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul II wrote that, "In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is..never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it." (EV, No. 73).

And in No. 74, His Holiness reminded us that: "Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from this responsibility, and on the basis of it everyone will be judged by God himself (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).

To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right. Were this not so, the human person would be forced to perform an action intrinsically incompatible with human dignity, and in this way human freedom itself, the authentic meaning and purpose of which are found in its orientation to the true and the good, would be radically compromised. What is at stake therefore is an essential right which, precisely as such, should be acknowledged and protected by civil law. In this sense, the opportunity to refuse to take part in the phases of consultation, preparation and execution of these acts against life should be guaranteed to physicians, health-care personnel, and directors of hospitals, clinics and convalescent facilities. Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane."

This point is not understood by columnist Dianne Williamson. In an article entitled "High-profile defiance applauded," (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, October 14 edition), Ms. Williamson castigates The Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, for basically saying the same thing. Ms. Williamson writes, "..Bishop Robert J. McManus conveyed the shock, positive shock, of his flock that the president of the College of the Holy Cross has allowed the school to rent space for a conference sponsored by a group that aims to reduce teen pregnancies and serve at-risk teens. While such efforts should be applauded - even from a Catholic perspective - the conference will include workshops by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice, which 'are notorious for their policies and practices that directly reject the Church's teaching on artificial contraception and abortion,' according to a stern statement from the Bishop." But is the Bishop's statement really "stern"? How so? Because it enforces a Magisterial teaching which Ms. Williamson considers unpleasant? Perhaps a more suitable adjective to describe His Excellency's statement would be "accurate."

In her article, Ms. Williamson quotes from a letter written by the president of Holy Cross College to a student who asked him to cancel the conference: "It is not and has never been the mainstream Catholic position, and certainly is not the Jesuit position, that we should run away from public discussions of issues that are important to us just because of the presence of those whose positions or activities we find to be wrong....To the extent that the church has tried it [pro-life strategies to shun Planned Parenthood], all it has done is marginalize its own voice, which is tragic. By refusing to take part in broad-based efforts to help young girls and their children, we play into the hands of Planned Parenthood, who want to portray us as only caring for our own ideology and not for the welfare of women."

The Church has refused to take part in broad-based efforts to help young girls and their children? With all due respect for the president of Holy Cross College, I think he needs to spend a little time at a Crisis Pregnancy Center or with popular pro-life movements such as Human Life International and Priests for Life, movements which have done so much to help young women and their children.

Concluding her article in which she sides (is anyone surprised?) with the president of Holy Cross, Ms. Williamson wrote, "The Rev. McFarlane understands this and favors an open, respectful exchange of ideas. Bishop McManus doesn't. Instead, the church once again condemns all who fail to march in lockstep with its rigid [ read faithful and uncompromising with regard to truth] ideology, regardless of the casualties."

Of course, Ms. Williamson is really interested in "an open, respectful exchange of ideas." Which is why she asserts in her piece that opposition to the conference at Holy Cross is "clearly orchestrated" by a "fringe anti-abortion group" and that the president of Holy Cross "has shown great courage and integrity by refusing to capitulate to the narrow-minded demands of a bishop who was apparently called to action by fringe pro-life activists."

Indeed in reading her column, one can just feel Ms. Williamson's warmth and dedication to the ideals of a sincere dialogue based upon "an open, respectful exchange of ideas." Goebbels would be proud. Fr. McFarland and Dianne Williamson will no doubt continue to play semantic word-games while capitulating to the culture of death. All the more tragic as innocent human persons continue to be put to death in the womb.

1 comment:

Brian said...

It has always been my impression that Williamson uses her column in the T&G to condemn all those who refuse to march lockstep with her radical feminist ideology. Look who is calling the kettle black.

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