The state of things in our civil government is pretty grim. Babies continue to be killed under cover of law in their mothers’ womb at the same rate now as they were being killed during the Clinton administration. Inspired by the fact that pro-abortion Catholics in the Democratic Party have not been excommunicated, a whole generation of Republican Catholic pro-aborts has arisen — New York Governor George Pataki, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former U.S. Representatives Rick Lazio and Susan Molinari, Maine Senator Susan Collins, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. They, too, have largely gone unchallenged by ecclesiastical authorities. (Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., has barred Ridge from speaking in any diocesan facilities. However, Archbishop Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua of Philadelphia has not issued any such edict. Indeed, in recent years Ridge has spoken in at least one Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.) The net effect upon the average Catholic is quite clear: support for the mystical destruction of our Lord in the persons of unborn babies is no impediment to being considered a Catholic in good standing. And support for such killing by Catholics in public life of either major political party is no impediment to being treated with warmth by the very princes of Holy Mother Church.
Enter Edward Cardinal Egan. The Archbishop of New York has had two good opportunities recently to admonish the pro-abortion Governor Pataki and the pro-abortion Mayor Giuliani. He dropped the ball on both occasions, thereby distinguishing himself from the early days of his predecessor, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, who picked some very public fights in 1984 with Governor Mario Cuomo and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro. (Yes, Cardinal O’Connor did apologize to Ferraro, saying that he did not mean to criticize his “good friend.” Well, she wasn’t his friend, good or otherwise. And he was absolutely right to criticize her. The late cardinal had a penchant for a Hamlet-like angst over his public comments about elected officials. And he himself gave Pataki and Giuliani a free pass on their pro-abortion stands.) Recently Cardinal Egan met privately with Pataki in Albany and came out saying that he had not discussed the issue of abortion with the governor. His Eminence said he looked forward to the “happy day” when Pataki would review his pro-abortion position. However, he stressed that Pataki was exercising his right as an American to be “pro-choice.” Only a few days later, Cardinal Egan warmly embraced Giuliani at New York’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, whose grand marshal was a pro-abortion Catholic politician from Staten Island.
“His right as an American?” The heresy of Americanism thus continues to influence the minds of highly intelligent princes of the Church. No one has the right to do evil. Human beings have the free will to choose between good and evil. However, we are only morally free to choose the good. No one has the “right” to choose to do that which is wrong. There is a distinction between having the authority to do something and having the ability to do it.
As I noted in “Get a Grip on Reality” in January, words have meaning. A Catholic — especially one who is a cardinal and is known to be a serious man of the mind — has the obligation to make all of the necessary distinctions required by Catholic moral theology. It is a grave dereliction of duty to speak in sloppy, Americanist terms that reaffirm the belief of ignorant people (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) that one really does have a “right” to support abortion. No one has the right to sin. And abortion is one of the four crimes that cry out to Heaven for vengeance. (The other three are the sin of Sodom, defrauding a widow, and withholding the wages from a day laborer.)
Words and actions speak very loudly. The average Catholic sees the warm reception accorded Giuliani, who doesn’t even make a pretense of opposing partial-birth abortion, and the affirmation that Pataki has a “right” to support baby-killing. Why should a pro-abortion Catholic in the pew reassess his uncritical acceptance of our culture of death when a Cardinal Archbishop of a major metropolitan see fails to communicate the fact that abortion is a grave crime against both the Church and the State? Why should a woman who is suffering the effects of post-abortion syndrome consider reconciling herself to the Father through the Son in Spirit and in Truth in the Sacrament of Penance when a Cardinal Archbishop speaks of support for abortion as being an exercise of an American “right”? Does not Cardinal Egan see that a woman can easily come to the conclusion that she was (or is) justified in seeking an abortion, if it is a matter of American rights? How can it not be a “right” for a woman to choose to have an abortion if Pataki has the “right” to choose to support it?
Recently Cardinal Egan rightly stated, from his pulpit at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, that the Brooklyn Museum deliberately displays blasphemous, anti-Catholic “works of art” that either are created by minorities or feature minorities as a subject. His Eminence courageously declared that the curators of the Brooklyn Museum were trying to immunize themselves from criticism by creating a “race card” that they could play if Catholics took offense to elephant dung on an alleged painting of the Blessed Mother or to a naked black woman posing as our Lord in a photograph attempting to recreate the Last Supper. Cardinal Egan was very right to point all of that out. Indeed, his remarks were masterly.
As horrible as blasphemous works of art are, however, abortion is a far greater crime. There are hierarchies of evil. Thus, while it is nice to support the sanctity of innocent human babies in abstract terms in one’s preaching, it is also necessary to communicate the seriousness of supporting the death of such babies by withholding handshakes and photo opportunities from Catholics of any political party who seek to capitalize on their Catholic identity while betraying the Fifth Commandment. Is it too much to hope and pray that the day will soon come when the bishops of the United States will excommunicate Catholics in public life who support the mystical destruction under cover of law of Jesus Christ in the person of unborn children in their mothers’ womb?
There was a lot of fuss recently over Ted Turner’s referring to employees wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday as “Jesus freaks.” Once more Turner put his bigotry on display for all to see. However, Turner is what he is: an ignorant bigot who feels safe in shooting off his mouth because of his enormous fortune. And after all, it is his “American right” to do so, isn’t it?
It is a teaching of the Church that no one has the right to blaspheme. No one has the “right” to use our Lord’s Holy Name in vain. No one has the “right” to produce blasphemous or pornographic works of “art” or motion pictures or magazines or books or TV programs or music or sex-instruction programs. But if Ted Turner is denounced for his anti-Catholicism, what of those Catholics considered officially to be in good standing within the Church who are not denounced for their anti-Catholic, anti-Theistic embrace of abortion?
In 1907 Pope Saint Pius X said in Pascendi that Modernism sought to divorce the Church from the State and the Catholic from the citizen. Americanism (which exalts all things American: religious indifferentism, cultural pluralism, the secular Republic, separation of Church and State, absolute freedom of speech and press) is but one of the many expressions of Modernism. Affirming a politician in the fallacious belief that Americans have a “right” to choose to support or do evil just feeds the Modernist notions decried so eloquently by Pope Saint Pius X (and by Popes Blessed Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius XI). Although it gets one good press and avoids a short-term controversy, feeding the Americanist notion of “rights” ultimately helps to perpetuate the culture of death, especially in our own co-religionists.
Our Lady, Mother of the Church, pray for the bishops of your Son’s Church. Pray that they might see the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith, speak the Truth boldly in love, and never be hesitant about confronting the mighty with their obligations to be true to the Cross of your Divine Son to the point of their dying breath, no matter what it might cost them in this passing world. Pray, dearest Mother of Life Himself, that the princes of the Church will remind pro-abortion Catholics in public life what your Son wants each of us to remember:“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his soul?”