Many people inside and outside the United States will reject this conclusion. They include stalwart anti-Catholics, pro-abortion feminists, and activists of all kinds who want the Catholic Church to stop being Catholic. Even so, the archbishop’s bracing stand for principle is a plus not just for the church but for all Americans, regardless of creed. This is so for three reasons.
First, any clarification of the facts is its own virtue. The letter to Pelosi, along with the Archbishop’s accompanying letters to priests and the laity, calmly informs others of what Catholicism actually teaches on certain topics. At a time when more and more people are not churchgoers, this in itself is a public service. The letters say, indeed, The catechism professes it. The Archbishop’s letter to the laity quotes this absolute unequivocal of Pope Francis: “Every child who, rather than being born, is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ. Another lesson bears repeating in an age of increasing secularization: everyone sins, and there is no such thing as an unpardonable sin. But leading others to sin, repeatedly and unrepentantly, is especially serious.
A second reason to welcome the Archbishop’s intervention has nothing to do with religion and a lot to do with a political distortion that also needs to be corrected. Since the 1960s, liberals have pretended – without reason – to speak for all women on this issue when the reality is much more complex. In 2016, for example, Pelosi called Republican attempts to fund Planned Parenthood an “insult to women’s intelligence and judgment.” On May 9, after Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s draft opinion leaked that would strike down Roe vs. Wadehis Press release repeated the theme over and over: “Republicans would snatch away women’s right to make the most intimate and personal decisions.” … America’s daughters will have less freedom than their mothers. … The stakes for women … couldn’t be higher. The speaker also played the women’s card in the name of abortion on Mother’s Day, saying on “Face the Nation” that “the court slapped women in the face”.
In a nation that values diversity, a reminder that no speaker should claim to speak for all women is another good thing.
Finally, the archbishop’s notification could mark the beginning of the end of another experiment gone wild: the idea that Catholics can simultaneously wave rosaries in public while working overtime against fundamental teachings.
This course correction is also very positive, especially since the generation responsible for yesterday’s drift is moving on. Pelosi and President Biden represent a declining faction of American Catholics. Their guiding star was a speech given by Mario Cuomothen Governor of New York, at the University of Notre Dame in 1984. Although philosophically scarce, he greatly influenced Catholics willing to do what Cuomo pioneered: project public ambivalence about abortion, while striving to ensure women’s access to abortion.
The ban on abortion dates back to the early days of the church. The phrase “pro-choice Catholic” should no more stumble over the tongue than “carnivorous vegetarian,” say, or “unleashed pacifist.” Love the church or hate it, increased consistency is a good thing.
In reality, “personally opposed to abortion” meant nothing more than giving up one restriction after another. Biden dropped out the limits of Hyde Amendment while he and other Democrats have recently gone so far as to push the macabre Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have even exceeded Roe v. Wade. Pro-lifers have argued for decades that it is impossible to draw lines around fetal life. By declaring that the only real stop sign is infanticide, today’s pro-choicers have proven them right.
For many years, some Catholics in public life have enjoyed illicit religious dual citizenship – pro-church on Sundays but otherwise adherents of a Gnostic creed that views abortion as an untouchable totem.
Now, thanks to Bishop Cordileone, the “personally opposed” option is less viable. Public figures who want both the political benefits of “choice” and the personal consolations of being Catholic may have to decide once again which of these two masters they will serve. A new type of choice is offered to them.