"That's just your opinion!" Thus screamed a student in a graduate course in the history of the United States from 1945 to the present, palpably upset about the fact that I had criticized the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Roe v. Wade.
What was my "opinion"? My statement that pregnancy is the natural result of human conjugal relations during a woman's childbearing years. Such is the viscera that passes for "thought" in the contemporary United States that a simple fact of biology is dismissed as matter of opinion. Indeed, I responded to the student by saying just that, that my statement was a matter of biology. She was nonplused, defiantly folding her arms in disapproval.
In a decidedly mixed class of students in a non-sectarian private university, I went on to explain the fact that the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, forbade abortion (as well as euthanasia) in the oath he administered to physicians, that the Roman orator Cicero was put to death for his defense of the existence of unchanging moral truths contained in the natural law, that the Roman playwright Juvenal, who lived in the Second Century, A.D., had written the following about abortion: "So great the skill, so powerful the drugs of the abortionist, paid to murder mankind in the womb." One can come to an understand from natural law reasoning alone that the deliberate, intentional killing of a preborn human being is always morally wrong and that no human being, whether acting individually or in concert with others, has the authority to do so.
I went on to explain, however, that pagans only had the light of natural reason to guide them. The world has had the supernatural light of the Catholic Faith to guide it ever since the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles and our dear Blessed Mother on Pentecost Sunday in the same Upper Room in Jerusalem where Our Lord had instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist for the sanctification and salvation of men at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. The Apostles went out into the world to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ without fear of any consequences, including that of bodily death. Indeed, they rejoiced, as the Acts of Apostles tells us, when they were deserving of ill-treatment for the sake of the Name.
Every Catholic is called to be faithful to the Gospel of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in every circumstance of his life. He is to think as a Catholic. He is to speak as a Catholic. Fully cognizant of his own need for the use of the Sacrament of Penance, a Catholic nevertheless understands that he, although no better than other men in that he is a sinner in need of constant conversion, has the obligation to invite all others into the true Church so that they can benefit unto eternity from the supernatural helps provided by the Church in the sacraments. And a Catholic has the positive obligation as a result of his baptism to conform his mind on all that pertains to faith and morals, as well as on matters of fundamental justice, to the Mind of Christ as It is expressed by His infallible Church.
Thus, a Catholic is supposed to understand that the direct, intentional killing of a preborn child is not only proscribed by the binding, immutable precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. A Catholic is supposed to understand that the Lord of history he follows through the true Church did everything for a very specific purpose, starting from the moment He took for Himself a human nature in the virginal and immaculate womb of His Blessed Mother at the Incarnation by the power of the Holy Ghost. Our Lord was teaching us for all eternity from the moment that He was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. He was teaching us at the very moment of the Incarnation that He is in eternal solidarity with every child in every mother's womb without any exception whatsoever. "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brethren, that you do unto Me."
Our Lord cannot suffer again. He suffered once during His fearful Passion and Death. However, He asked Saul the following question after He had been blinded on the road to Damascus.
"'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?' Who said: 'Who art thou, Lord?' And he: 'I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.'"
Our Lord had risen to the Father's right hand in glory on Ascension Thursday about two years before Saul's journey to Damascus to continue the persecution of Christians he had presided over in Jerusalem at the time Saint Stephen was stoned to death. Our Lord was telling Saul, who became the great Apostle to the Gentiles, Saint Paul, that a persecution of the least one of His members is a persecution of Him in mystical terms.
Thus, every abortion is an attack mystically upon Our Lord Jesus Christ in the person of a preborn child. No one who is a disciple of Our Lord through His true Church can say that he "loves" the Lord while he promotes, supports, participates in or procures a procedure that of its nature is a dismemberment of Him mystically. I explained this in so many words to my students in that graduate course (some of them had Catholic surnames). And this must be explained to every Catholic who supports abortion as a "constitutional right" or promotes it in any form. We cannot say we love Our Lord while we promote the very thing that caused Him to suffer once on the wood of the Cross and that which wounds His Mystical Body, the Church, today: sin. Although it is one thing to be sorry and to seek out the mercy of Our Lord in the hospital of Divine Mercy that is the confessional, it is quite another to promote, exalt or justify sin in one's own life or in the life of one's nation.
Pope Leo XIII put it this way:
"So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountain-head and origin of many evils. Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object. But the character of goodness and truth cannot be changed at option. These remain ever one and the same, and are no less unchangeable than Nature herself. If the mind assents to false opinions, and the will chooses and follows after what is wrong, neither can attain its native fullness, but both must fall from their native dignity into an abyss of corruption. Whatever, therefore, is opposed to virtue and truth, may not rightly be brought temptingly before the eye of man, much less sanctioned by the favor and protection of the law.
"A well-spent life is the only passport to heaven, whither all are bound, and on this account the State is acting against the laws and dictates of nature whenever it permits the license of opinion and of action to lead minds astray from truth and souls away from the practice of virtue. To exclude the Church, founded by God Himself, from the business of life, from the power of making laws, from the training of youth, from domestic society, is a grave and fatal error. A State from which religion is banished can never be well regulated; and already perhaps more than is desirable is known of the nature and tendency of the so-called civil philosophy of life and morals. The Church of Christ is the true and sole teacher of virtue and guardian of morals. She it is who preserves in their purity the principles from which duties flow, and by setting forth urgent reasons for virtuous life, bids us not only to turn away from wicked deeds, but even to curb all movements of the mind that are opposed to reason, even though they not be carried out in action."
It is never permissible in Catholic teaching to permit grave evils to receive the sanction of law. A Catholic does not have the "freedom of though" to support legal abortion, as the President of Holy Cross College in Worcester Massachusetts, Father Michael C. McFarland, S.J., contended recently by way of justifying the invitation his college extended to MSNBC television host and syndicated columnist Christopher Matthews, an alumnus of the college, to speak at its commencement ceremonies and receive an honorary degree on May 23, 2003. Matthews supports a "woman's right to choose" to kill her preborn child. Although he is a gifted writer who broke from the rank and file of many members of his Democratic Party to criticize then President William Jefferson Clinton when the Monica Lewinsky story broke on January 22, 1998 (and remained one of the most dogged critics of the behavior of the Clinton White House from that point onward), he is nevertheless a baptized Catholic who has spoken and written in defense of abortion. He supports, whether or not he realizes it, the mystical dismemberment of Jesus Christ in the persons of preborn children in their mothers' wombs. While it is a matter of both charity and justice to pray that he will use his considerable talents to undo the damage he has done by such a promotion of abortion by submitting himself to the authoritative precepts of the Divine positive law and natural law as explicated by Holy Mother Church, it is a grave matter to invite him to speak to young students, whose minds should be formed only in accord with the Splendor of Truth Incarnate, the God-Man, as He has revealed Himself through His true Church. It is a scandal to honor him, no matter his earthly accomplishments as a noted alumnus of Holy Cross College.
(Would Father McFarland have said in the 1950s that support for legal segregation of the races was "allowable" in Catholic thought? Would he have said in Nazi Germany that support for Adolf Hitler's eugenics program in 1939 and the extermination of "parasites" in concentration camps was "allowable" in Catholic thought? Would he say than any form of anti-Semitism or racism is "allowable" in Catholic thought? Why, then, is the slicing and dicing of little babies in their mothers' wombs considered to "allowable," reducing one of the four crimes that cry out to Heaven for vengeance to a mere matter of opinion that has no relationship to Truth Himself?)
Our Lord taught us many lessons also during His Hidden Years in Nazareth. He, the God-Man, the One through Whom all things were made, placed Himself voluntarily in the context of a family, obeying the structure of the family. Although He was One Who made His foster-father, Saint Joseph, and His Blessed Mother, He placed Himself in a position of inferiority to them, His creatures, in the context of the family. The lesson is even more profound than this: Our Lord submitted Himself in humility to the authority of His foster-father who, though, a just man, was a sinner, thereby teaching us that each of us is to submit ourselves to all lawful authority in all things that do not pertain to sin, starting with the Church. The Holy Family is thus an image of the Church. Every Catholic is called to accept without any degree of dissent whatsoever all that is contained in the Deposit of Faith. "For he that shall be ashamed of Me, and of My words, in this adulterous and sinful generation; the Son of man also will be ashamed of him, when He shall come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" (Mk. 8:38). One cannot excuse himself of these lessons and consider himself a Catholic in good standing.
It is incumbent upon the Most Reverend Daniel Reilly, the Bishop of Worcester, to insist that Matthews be disinvited to his alma mater if the latter does not have the humility to change his mind and the courage to speak out boldly against abortion-and if Father McFarland persists in his arrogant insistence that support for legal abortion "is allowable in Catholic thought." Bishop Reilly has the grave duty as part of his apostolic mandate to publicly correct that statement and to reprimand Father McFarland. Indeed, I would state further that His Excellency has the duty to request the Jesuit Father General to remove Father McFarland as the President of Holy Cross College. Quite to the contrary of what Father McFarland contends, ordinary Catholics do have a right and a duty to remind their prelates of basic Catholic doctrine when those prelates deny precepts contained in the Deposit of Faith and contained in the Divine positive law and the natural law.
All but a handful of colleges that retain Catholic sounding names and legacies are actually in the control of lay boards of trustees or directors precisely so as to claim that the Church has no authority to direct its curricula, its extracurricular activities (such as plays with vulgar names and obscene themes), or the speakers it chooses to address its students and faculty. This has been the case ever since the Land O'Lakes conference in Wisconsin in 1966, an event chronicle definitively in Monsignor George A. Kelly's The Battle for the American Church. Holy Cross is one of those "secularized" Catholic colleges and universities. Nevertheless, scandals to the Faith must be prevented, and that duty falls to the diocesan bishop in whose diocese such an institution is located.
Not surprisingly, Holy Cross College is not alone in giving scandal to the Faith this graduation season. Mount Saint Mary's College in Los Angeles, California, has invited two pro-abortion Congresswomen to speak at its May 10, 2003 commencement ceremonies, Reps. Loretta and Linda Sanchez, sisters who share a quite passionate support for the destruction of innocent human beings in their mothers' wombs under cover of law. Loretta Sanchez gained fame in 1996 by defeating then Representative Robert K. Dornan, who was an outspoken opponent of abortion. Not a word of criticism about Loretta Sanchez's pro-death position was ever uttered by the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Cardinal Mahony, who has gone out of his way to be seen with pro-abortion politicians such as former President Bill Clinton and current California Governor Gray Davis. The Sanchez sisters are considered to be Catholics in good standing. Their invitation to speak at Mount Saint Mary's College is even more of a scandal than the Holy Cross invitation extended to Christopher Matthews. As bad as the latter's philosophical support for abortion is, the Sanchez sisters actively promote "abortion rights" under cover of law in the United States House of Representatives. Individuals who should be excommunicated wind up being honored in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where priests and consecrated religious who dissent from the Deposit of Faith are promoted and where great steps are taken to protect sodomite priests from the scrutiny of investigators.
New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, who has waged a well-documented crusade against Crisis Pregnancy Centers, has been invited to speak at the Marist College commencement in Poughkeepsie, New York, also in May of this year. Those who have protested this particular outrage to the office of Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, have been told that Marist College is not under the control of the archdiocese. No statement of condemnation will be forthcoming, from Cardinal Egan, who is evidently too busy making sure that traditionally minded priests are banned from celebrating Holy Mass in his archdiocese and selling beautiful old churches to make money to pay off the victims of pervert priests to make a public statement about this scandal. Of course, Egan is also ignoring the scandal that will be given soon by the invalid re-marriage of the divorced pro-abortion Catholic, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, to his long-time mistress, Judith Nathan, at New York's City Hall, presided over by the current pro-abortion Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Egan does not consider it duty to raise his voice to teach his people about the grievous nature of these scandals. That is a scandal in and of itself.
Individual Catholics, therefore, must stand up and denounce these scandals, being mindful always of their own sinfulness and of their need to pray faithfully before the Blessed Sacrament and to the Mother of God for the conversion of the people who support grave evils and/or cause grave scandals to the Faith in public life. It is not to be "judgmental" or "intolerant" to insist that those in positions in Catholic institutions of higher learning or in chancery offices or Catholics who serve in public office think and act always as faithful sons and daughters of the Church who accept the totality of the Deposit of Faith and who see it as their duty to defend the Faith with all of the might Our Lady can give them.
What, for example, Father McFarland of Holy Cross College does not realize is that Our Lord is not going to say to him "Well done, good and faithful servant," if he persists to his dying breath in his belief that support for abortion "is allowable in Catholic thought." Our Lord is not going to say "well done" to anyone at his own Particular Judgment who has unrepentantly persisted in a support of or indifference to His Own mystical dismemberment in the wombs' of mothers. This is not a matter of opinion. This is a matter of fundamental justice founded in Truth Incarnate Himself.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Unborn, pray for those who are so misguided as to believe that they can remain a follower of her Divine Son in good standing and support His destruction at the same time. May she, given to us to be our Mother by her Son as she stood so valiantly at the foot of the Cross as she watched the horror that our sins were taking on the Body she gave Him in her virginal and immaculate womb, help all Catholics to have such a detestation for sin that they will work to cooperate with her Son's graces to root it out in their own lives-and thus in every aspect of their societies, especially when it has received the favor and the protection of the law.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.