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Pope's man in Italy on abortion, homosexuality & Communion for the divorced & remarried.

The church should listen "without any taboo" to all arguments for married priests, for allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion, and about homosexuality, according to Bishop Nunzio Galatino, the man Pope Francis hand-picked to serve as general secretary of the Italian bishops conference.

In an interview with the Florence newspaper La Nazione, Galatino said that “in the past we have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia." (Sound familiar?) "It mustn’t be this way because in the middle there’s real life which is constantly changing." He continued: “I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.”

Needless to say, that didn't go over with members of the prolife movement. As the Tablet of London reported, John Smeaton--head of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn--responded sharply: “I do identify with the person outside the abortion clinic praying their rosary, whether or not the person is expressionless.... I really don't think you would be saying, if national laws had allowed the killing of Catholic priests or Jews over the past few decades: 'In the past we have concentrated too much on the killing of Catholic priests or Jews.'"

(H/T David Gibson)



Commenting Guidelines

Does it appear to others as it does to me that Papa Francesco may finally be loosing control of the message of his papacy?  

Hierarchs are such pitiable pathetic dears - they just can't let go of their hegemonic political power to which they have been become so addicted.

Alas, to paraphrase Paul, human sexuality seems to be [a stumbling block to the hierarchs and a foolishness to reactionary Catholics].

Wow.That comment about abortion is really shocking;it's basically ridiculing people who pray,and who pray to end  the evil of abortion.Said by a Christian. I'm speechless.I do support Pope Francis's claim that global income inequality needs to be addressed as a moral issue by Christians and I have no problem with taking a second look at communion for divorced people,the taboo against married priests,etc.,but this bishop's statement is fodder for the pro abortion culture and steers Christians away from recognizing the evil of abortion that is in our midst! His is one man's opinion but being that he's a bishop it is very disturbing to me,to hear.  

 I find the people protesting outside abortion clinics disturbing too.  An interesting past movies about this issue - Lake of Fire -


I did it once. When the bishop came to my parish church and we formed a procession praying and went and prayed in front of 2 abortion clinics.I did not even know the clinics were in my neighborhood. They're not marked as such.Praying the rosary in front of the clinics was like bringing down the reality of God's presence.That's what it felt like to me; the sacred and the profane, God's love in the midst of evil too.One  clinic is still there,unmarked .My grand daughters' relative lives in the adjacent attached building and it is quite shocking that the banality of such evil is taking place, literally here, side by side with the wholesomeness  of  everyday life; the sadness of it.

Clinics where abortions are done have good reasons to be low profile - patients and employees are harrassed and some doctors have even been murdered.

I think John Smeaton's comment resonates. For people who in their hearts believe abortion is the taking of an innocent human life,  how can one talk about it "too much"?   Its not that we talk about abortion "too much"; its that we don't talk about a lot of other things enough.


Have found those who picket at clinics to be *marginal and disturbed* folks to begin with.  Most are operating out of their own hang-ups, fears, over-reactions, etc.  Why are they there?  To embarras women who are facing a terrible dilemma?  To feel that they are superior to those who may use the services of the clinic?  It passes judgment on every person who enters that clinic - whether they are having an abortion or not (most clinics offer multiple services).  And, what do the picketers offer these women?  Do they have viable alternatives?  Will they stand by these women if they change their minds and need support?

Given the amount of violence that has occured at clinics (btw - in the name of Pro-Life) have never advocated nor would I ever participate.  After more than 40 years of debate on this issue, picketing clinics is not the best or even most reasonable arena to have a civil and national discussion.

Clinics come in every shade - some are well known; some are not (for good reason).  So, you didn't know that a local clinic was there - so what?  Sounds like that is your issue?

Can think of all kinds of parallel examples that would heighten the ridiculousness of picketing - e.g. picket the local county hospital because it may give post-rape medication (while interfering with the ER operations); personal attacks on MDs (online threats; hard copy mailings that threaten; etc.).

Examples of picketers who haven't done their homework and are on a personal vendetta:

The study above has a number of conclusions which raises my concerns about this activity (yes, non-violent picketing is protected by the 1st Amendment and case law)

- picketing at clinics increases in response to the vulnerability of abortion providers. (not exactly a pro-life response or reason to picket)

- the evangelical churchs's impact via Terry & Operation Rescue (think he did more harm than good to the pro-life cause)

- Picketing at abortion clinics will be more frequent in states with higher levels of electoral competition.

-  (yep, and if Finn is against it; funny how protecting kids from abuse somehow is skipped over by Finn in his effort to stop abortion - yep, another consistent pro-life message)


I agree with Irene.  the problem is that the hierarchy talks about it to the exclusion of all else and it has led to alliances with lots of people for whom Catholic social teaching is unacceptable.  Barney Frank's line that for too many "life begins at conception and ends at birth" is not so far off for many of the Church's allies in the anti-abortion movement, and I would argue, for many anti-abortion Catholics now, as well.

What matters is not the justness of the cause but the marginal effectiveness of our actions. If talking about abortion does nothing to reduce abortions while other actions could do actual good, we are talking about abortion too much. Part of the reason that those who are not primarily focused on the pro-life movement can resent it is the way people use it to trump all other causes.

Agree with Irene that, "It's not that we talk about abortion 'too much', but that we don't talk about a lot of other things enough." Other things such as war, for instance.

However I can't agree with Bill DeHaas about people who picket at clinics being "marginal and disturbed".  I myself have never picketted /prayed in front of a clinic. However I know some who have, including some teenage girls from our local Catholic high school.  They made a 90 mile trip in January in sub-freezing weather to pray the rosary in front of one of our state's two "facilities".  These girls were typical high school students of today; between studying for the ACT, etc., and doing all the activities and maintaining the grade averages that we seem to expect of kids, I've no idea when they manage to sleep. But they cared enough to spend a Saturday morning praying for the desperate patients of this clinic, and their unborn babies.  I hear a lot about the entitled and unmotivated teens of today, but I don't know too many of them. And I am a little ashamed that I wasn't there with these girls.


My feelings about people who pray in front of abortion clinics are colored by a personal experience in the mid 1970's.   Our first child was eleven and our second child almost five, and I thought I might be pregnant again.    I had mixed feelings but would not have considered an abortion.  (I was not yet a Catholic then, either.)     My doctor said he didn't think I was pregnant but suggested I take a urine specimen to the women's health center if I wanted to find out for sure.   I had no idea that the day I went was the day they did abortions.   I suppose the laws about how close protesters can get to the clinic had not yet been passed, because I had to run a gauntlet of people getting right up into my face, their faces distorted by hatred, screaming at me, "Don't kill your baby!".  I felt that they would have happily killed me, if they could do it without killing the  supposed  baby.   When I came back out a minute later, perhaps they thought they had convinced me not to have an abortion.    I think abortion is wrong; I also think that picketing abortion clinics accomplishes nothing except making the protesters feel righteous.    I think Catholics should be careful about identifying too strongly with those who have great concern for the unborn but consider born children, if poor, as little moochers who don't deserve medical care or food stamps.

Thanks, Elaine and sorry you went through that experience.  Would have to think heavily before I would recommend or advise a bunch of high school students to travel miles and miles in freezing cold to picket - why do it?   What about more serious interventions e.g. volunteer at a clinic in a poor neighborhood or town and actually work with people who confront these issues?  Rather than focus on the negative - do volunteer work that adresses some of the context and reasons for why folks face abortion - poor education; poor jobs or no jobs, economically depressed; too many kids already, depression, lack of family support, etc.

Picketing at a clinic reminds me of folks who decide to deal with ideas/issues they disagree with by holding a book burning.  As if burning books will resolve the issue.

An example of what it can be like to escort patients through the protestors to the clinic ...

"[...]  Oh my goodness. I thought I was mentally and emotionally prepared for the experience but no words can fully capture the absolute cruelty and hate that was displayed that day. Back then, Hope Clinic averaged 50 – 60 protesters each Saturday morning, and most of them carried very graphic signs that they displayed toward the clinic and out to the road. They distributed leaflets to every car. They blocked the driveway so that cars could not enter the parking lot. They blocked car doors so that people could not leave their cars. They took pictures of patients and of their license plates and posted both on their website. Some unobtrusively sang songs and prayed, but they were a distinct minority to the others.

What I found most shocking was what the protesters said. They shouted absolutely vicious statements to people they had never met before—making assumptions about faith and parenthood and economic stability and sexual orientation and many other things too—and they excused their behavior because it was “God’s will.”  Many of the protesters embrace a Machiavellian “the ends justify the means” approach. In conversations I’ve had with them, they recognize their immediate behavior as harsh but defend it by saying they are doing the greater good. If they are meaner then more women stay away and more abortions are prevented. The protesters were (and still are) absolutely cutting with their words ..."

More obiter dicta, more soundbites, more confusion -- the Vatican should produce sober and weighty utterances on such grave subjects, not toss half-thought-out opinions into the already confusing welter of views. Better be silent until such measured utterance is possible. The Synod should try to take things in hand, but they'll be sent home after a few weeks.

Is it inevitable that journalism, politics, and the church's teaching role must now be conducted in tweets?

rose-ellen caminer:

God bless you for your comment.  You are likely to face an uphill battle on this blog, but keep at it: You just may change some minds.

Joseph S. O Leary @ 11:12pm

the already confusing welter of views

What already confusing welter of views? The Church's teachings on these "grave subjects" are already quite clear, are they not?

What confuses me are those people who say they are confused by, well, this, that or the other. And my view on their confusion is that they are not really confused but are just being intentionally obtuse (and/or stupid), because they just don't like what they are hearing. 


As an aside, the phrase, "Pope's man/friend/pal/right-hand/theologian/vice-pope/what have you" has gotten old already, and I for one wouldn't be sad to see it being retired for good.

From the movie Juno. A good film, and written by a former stripper and peep show worker. Also journalist and feminist. Unlike the bishop, she treats the issue more sensitively and ironically has a better grasp of sexuality.

I recall, many years ago, a brief article in COMMONWEAL mag about abortion wherein the writer argued it was frankly desirable in some cases.  Unfortunately I didn't keep it.  Does anyone remember it?

More obiter dicta, more soundbites, more confusion -- the Vatican should produce sober and weighty utterances on such grave subjects, not toss half-thought-out opinions into the already confusing welter of views.

I agree.  Pope Francis may have an instinctive genius for saying and doing the right thing with a few words or a simple gesture, but most of us don't.



People who pray in front of clinics come across as sanctimonious, holier-than-thou and self-absorbed. They don't help the cause.

Since I seem to be the only one around here with extensive experience with what Bishop Galatino is talking about, I am tempted to say something. At the same time, I have to note that the situation at our local abortatorium is probably different from many. The building is surrounded by a wall and foliage, Access is through an alley some of the rent-a-cops consider private, even though it leads to four other businesses as well. It is the access used by ambulances, so we don't get a look at what goes on when they are called for a safe procedure unless someone just happens to be in the drive-through lane in the Wendy's across the alley,

Egress from the clinic, by car, is through a driveway that leads to a public sidewalk and street. One or two counselors use the sidewalk and try to gain the attention of clients as they walk from their cars to the clinic door maybe 25 feet away from the counselors. The counselors (full disclosure: one is my wife) can't currently use a bullhorn because this is a quiet zone, although the drive-through transactions at Wendy's and a Pollo Tropical on the opposite side of the property are clearly audible where they stand. And they can be heard across the street where a line of people will be standing saying the rosary.

Some of the rosary sayers are expressionless. Most are not. Two or three, indeed, are quite tightly wound and might be a problem if they could get near the clients. But, as you can see from my description, they can't. Sometimes the bishop joins them. He has a soft voice. Sometimes I join them. I am not big on male participation in any part of this operation for this reason: The clients are in their condition because of a man and, in most cases, they are at the clinic because of something a man did or didn't do. So it seems to me to be a long shot, and a bit insulting, for another man to be seen as offering them advice.

The motives of the rosary-sayers seem to be quite varied. Some may just be happy to tell women they are going to Hell, but others volunteer at the alternative places the sidewalk counselors' flyers recommend. I have run into others at anti-war rallies, fund raisers for seminarians and at our community organization's actions for justice. (One of the "greeters" at the clinic also has shown up at our actions.)

Occasionally, not often, someone will leave the clinic and come to a counselor for literature, saying she has changed her mind. The counselors talk about a "saved baby." I have met a couple of those babies, so I can attest that they exist. Is all the effort worth it for the rare "saved baby"? The babies and their families might say so. It's better than getting one's holy cards blessed for passing anti-abortion laws in the state legislature for the courts to strike down.


The one experience I had was of us there praying the rosary.It was not rambuctuous or contemptuous. We did not  see many  people there going in or coming out. It was quiet except for the reciting of the rosary.The sign said "medical sevices".The reason I mentioned that I  did not know it was an abortion clinic  was to empahsize what to me is a profound evil;that side by side with the apartment building where life is going on ,is a building where suffering and death is occuring and it is normal.The normalization of evil.I thought I made that point clearly.                                                     Picketing is pro life;as it is solidarity with the victims;the innocent humans made to suffer and die ,as well as the pregnant women who drank; the- sky- is- falling-,my- life- is- ruined -cause- i'm pregnant, hysteria.                                                                                                                                                      The abortion providers, are also victims of a survival of the fittest, might makes right ethos.The most vulnerable are those humans being killed and the women who perceive killing,even their own,  as a legitimate way to solve a temporary "problem".                                                                                   The vulnerability of providers?Meaning what?That some clinics have barriers ,some don't?People have a right to picket and to picket where they are seen by those against whom they're picketing; here clinics where  the unborn are being killed.                                                                                     Whether those picketing are mental cases or whatever, is really not relevant to the issue at hand;the right to picket, even by people with mental problems is a  right.                                                         Picketing  is a form of having  that abortion discussion.                                                                 Breaking the law;threatening,harrassing ,violence against providers is not the same as picketing.                                                                                                                                                              The shame is the normalization of the  killing of  the unborn and picketing is a counter cultural expression saying   that though normal ,abortion is evil.                                                             If pro lifers only care about this , and fail to recognize other normailized evils[economic inequity, massive poverty,pre-emptive  war, etc,] that says something about them.To these many accepted  evils Pope Francis and many bishops are trying to enlighten the pro life "fanatics" and all of our conscience about.If there are some who can only see the evil of abortion ,then so what? God knows their hearts and their capacities. Their protests,their prayers  in front  of abortion clinics is still a legitimate  response to a real evil happening in[ their] time and place. 

Tom, bless your wife for her witness.  And you.


Closing every abortion clinic in the world will not stop abortion.  It will just make it harder for some and more inconvenient for others.

But women who, for whatever their reasons are, believe they need to abort, will.  And men who support them will support and assist them.

Until and unless people are convinced that abortion is wrong, outlawing it will just hurt the poor women.

“Have found those who picket at clinics to be *marginal and disturbed* folks to begin with.”

Really? Everyone who pickets?

While I don’t condone screaming and yelling—they would seem to be counterproductive by definition—peaceful dissent and attempts at persuasion are time-honored traditions. Peacefully reciting the Rosary falls within that wide umbrella of acceptable conduct in my opinion. There are a number of stories about women prepared to have an abortion who have been swayed by respectful interchanges with peaceful protesters. Even some abortion clinic workers have reconsidered their positions as the result of respectful dialogue. There’s hope for everyone on the issue of abortion—Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, later became a Catholic and a pro-life activist.

There could also be an interesting U.S. Supreme Court decision (McCullen v. Coakley) issued in the next six weeks or so. Massachusetts enacted a law requiring a 35-foot buffer zone between protesters and the front of abortion clinics. Reading the tea leaves of Supreme Court oral argument is at best an inexact science, but even some of the liberal justices (e.g., Justice Kagan) seemed to have problems with some aspects of the law.

(Thanks to Rose-Ellen and Irene for your thoughtful comments.)       

The reason picketers at abortion clinics often seem angry at the clients is that the clients are about to commit a horribly evil act that the protestors are powerless to stop. It would be better if they didn't act like that, but their anger is understandable.

As for the charge that they're smug, sanctimonious and holier-than-thou- well, no doubt many of them are. But they're in the right. . Are we only going to allow perfectly sinless people to fight for important causes? I don't think we'll make much progress that way.

Abortion is really an economic rather than a pro life problem. The second thing is that it is hugely political. Even tho the Repbublican party has been associated with anti-abortion, Republicans do not care about the women.Rather it is the poltical gain. While George W was trumpeting anti-abortion (while starting wars) his wife Laura said that she would favor her daughter having an abortion if she deemed it necessary. Third, while we must work to make abortion unnecessary there is absolute no proof from science or theology that the embryo is a human person who will be subject to eternal life. No question the dna is human. But to conclude that this is a person is beyond the pale. And the absolute proof that clerics who wail about prolife don't care if the fetus is thrown into the garbage. If that is a killing then there shuld be decent burial. So far zero burials for fetuses. Such hypocrisy.  The fourth thing is while there are many good people involved in pro-life, there are plenty of the nastiest people involved in the movement.   Fifth, despite their attempt to overcome this abyss the pro-life movement is virtually silent on war, syria, the 200+ Nigerian girls that are missing etc

Now that Francis is exalting the sights of the bishops they are not as vocal on this issue as the pope is pointing out to them that their opulent lives are a disgrace while so many families are struggling to feed and clothe their children. 

This is an economic problem.

Bill C, -

We must never forget Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the founders of NARAL  He was eventually persuaded that abortion was the killing of a person, admitted his mistakes publicly and turned pro-life.  What courage!

Here in Italy abortions can only be performed in public hospitals ( and they are  free of charge). Usually in the hospital there is also a Catholic chapel, so in  a floor abortions are performed, in the other a Mass is celebrated. Priests don’t have problems  with this situation.

In regards to your first point-that abortion is an economic matter- this assumes that all abortions are done by poor women for reasons having to do with money. This is simply not the case. It also seems to assume that poverty is a solvable problem-that al it takes is for all of us to come together in goodwill and work for a solution. I don't think this is the case.  A solution for poverty is not readily available and I am not willing to allow abortion to continue while we wait around for one to materialize. Yes, welfare programs and other measures to relieve poverty and promote equality are laudable, but they are not a panacea.

In regards to your second point- that Republicans use the abortion issue for political gains- well, that's all the more reason to fight for a change on this issue within the Democratic party. If the Dems took the correct position on this issue the Republicans wouldn't have that advantage. I can't see how this works as a reason not to oppose abortion.

On your third point I have three things. First, there are strong philosophical arguments for viewing the fetus as a human being. Second, shouldn't the onus of proof be on those who want to slaughter fetuses to prove that doing so is justified, not the other way around. Third, you say that there is no theological proof that the fetus is a human being. I assume you mean that theology cannot offer any sort of scientific proof. That may be true, but the doctrine is very clear. The church cannot offer scientific proof of the existence of heaven or the resurrection. But it would not make sense to live as if these things were false and still call yourself a faithful Catholic.

As for your claim that pro-life bishops don't actually care, I don't even know what to say. Ridiculous. I supppose its comforting for pro-choicers to belive that pro-lifers are all acting out of some sinister alterior motive (whatever that may be).

Fourth, I don't see the relevance of this. I imagine your seeing them as nasty comes from a tendency among those of us who grew up in a liberal, progressive culture to see conservatives and religous fundamentalists as the Other. If you try viewing them with a little more goodwill I think you will find that many of your stereotypes are unfair. Or maybe not. I can only speak from my own experience here. But in any case, the fact that disagreeable people support a cause does not discredit that cause.

Fifth, how do you know what pro-lifers feel about these issues? The pro-life movement is an anti-abortion movement. It would make no sense to take on issues that fall outside the issue of abortion. I don't really know what you want here. There seems to be a belief that "pro-life" ought to be some generic "pro-good-things" movement that takes on a variety of issues and doesn't treat any as more imprtant than any other. I don't even see how this could be concievably possible. Pro-lifers have a variety of political views, they are brought together by the one they share. There is no governing body that can say "From now on we only want people who also believe that we need a universal healthcare system." You might as well say that feminism is silent on the issue of soil degradation, or that the gay marriage movement is silent on the issue of unexploded ordnance in Laos and Cambodia.

And frankly, even if pro-lifers all supported slavery that would do nothing to change the fact that abortion is wrong.

Also you seem to be guilty of an inconsistency yourself, since you attack pro-lifers for supporting war and then attack them for NOT supporting military action in Nigeria and Syria.

The above comment was meant as a rely to Bill Mazzella. Sorry if that isn't clear.

True, Ann. By his own reckoning he participated in about 75,000 abortions, including the abortion of the fetus that resulted from his impregnation of a woman he was dating. In his book, "The Hand of God," he describes his clinical detachment during that procedure in such stark, confessional terms that it is worth the price of the book itself.      

Warren Patton - bravo.


Over 80% of of women getting abortions are single and young and about 3/4 of them say they can't afford to have a child. About a thind of those getting an abortion are Catholic. 

To say that getting an abortion is evil is to state an opinion, one that most people in the US don't share.  Why?  It probably depends, but I would guess thaat many, as Bill wrote, don't think embryos and early fetuses are "persons" ... almost 90% of abortions are done before the 12th week.

@Crystal Watson:

many, as Bill wrote, don't think embryos and early fetuses are "persons"

Whenever I hear this assertion, I always wonder whether these people would tell women who are mourning a miscarriage or early pregnancy loss, "meh, what's the big deal? It's not like that was a real person; it's just a fetus."


I can imagine that when someone is pregnant and looking forward to having a baby that a relationship grows in anticpation.  But probably most people who want an abortion  don't have that experience. 

It's one thing to think you are right on this issue, but you can't force others to believe what you do or to feel the way that you do simply because you think they should.  It seems to me that trying to understand where they are coming from would be the first step in trying to change things. 

Following Crystal with more numbers: 42% of women who get abortions earn less than 100% of the federal poverty level, ($10,830 for a single woman without children,) and another 27% for 100-199% of the federal poverty level.

If you ask the economic question another way, you see that the average cost of living in, e.g., St. Louis MO, is $32-40 k for a single parent with one or two children, way above 199% of the poverty level. (61% of women who get abortions have one or more children already.) This is a general trend: "For the nation overall, the average family budget for a two-parent family with two children is $48,778, far above the official poverty threshold of $21,027." 

Economics is hugely important in abortion decisions, as are responsibilities to other people, including other children.



But to turn away from abortion for a moment...does anyone really think that a synod on the family, even if there is discussion of the various non-abortion issues mentioned, will likely bring any change since Paul VI, the author of Humanae Vitae, will be canonized immediately thereafter? I can't imagine they won't double down on the current teaching in honor of the new St. Paul. I suppose they could re-vision Communion for the divorced and remarried, but the teachings on contraception and homosexuality are unlikely to undergo any real change, istm...sadly.

""Also you seem to be guilty of an inconsistency yourself, since you attack pro-lifers for supporting war and then attack them for NOT supporting military action in Nigeria and Syria."


Where did I write that I supported military action in those areas?

Maybe you related to this since some fanatical prolifers have murdered doctors. 

Can people who believe in and practice birth control be Catholic? I know at one time you could not consider yourself Catholic if you thought the earth moved.

I have many conservative friends and grew up quite orthodox. 



Would just like to underline some phrases and terms used above - would suggest that without more nuancing, we get lost.

Medical science has demonstrated phases of development:

- for some who are pro-life but realize that birth control is a moral decision in some cases

- they might also understand from science that there is no human being before implantation.

- for these folks, the phrase *from the moment of conception* needs to be it implantation or before that moment?

- the process of implantation naturally results in an estimated 2/3rds of all *conceptions* end with no implantation (this is just naturally; no outside means involved)

- for many, the actual question and issue is after implantation - you have the beginning of a fetus

- for some, they make further distinctions - what is viability?  Do you measure by heart beat? Most women don't even know they are pregnant until weeks after implantation;  which raises other questions.

- this is just on the level of reproductive biology...would suggest that a simplistic *from conception* statement does not resonate with folks because it is not supported by what we know medically and scientifically.  (which has created historical problems on other issues for the church)

Finally, even if this whole group is merged togather - then we have added questions and issues in terms of public policy and what is feasible?  Are you going to jail all women who have abortions; how about the men who impregnated them?  how about the MDs?

I don't think the synod will change much of anything, except perhaps to allow pastors to decide if they want to let divorced/remarried take communion - but I think the actua teaching on divorce will remain the same and the change will be seen as "mercy" for people who have failed.  Considering how overwhelming the results of the Vatican survey were around the world for contraception, co-habiting, divorce, acceptance of gays, etc., this lack of change will really show the church is beyond fixing, I think.  Depressing.

@BIll Mazzella

Apologies, I wasn't saying you aren't a faithful Catholic. I was just sort of trying to figure out what you meant by "proof" in theology. I think that Catholic theology is pretty clear on this issue and that this should be hard for a practicing Catholic to dismiss. But perhaps my phrasing was a little strong.

As for Nigeria and Syria you said this: "...the pro-life movement is virtually silent on war, syria, the 200+ Nigerian girls that are missing etc." Which I took to be attacking pro-lifers for not demanding that the American military be deployed in these places. I suppose that there are ways to respond to these crises that don't involve military action, so maybe that isn't what you meant. But most of those in the States who are demanding action are hawks (like John McCain).

I have no idea what Syria and Nigeria have to do with murdering doctors, but for the record I did not support the Iraq War nor do I support intervening in Nigeria and Syria. I also oppose intervening in the Ukraine and think the Libya intervention was a huge mistake. And obviously I oppose murdering doctors.

As for the stuff I said about growing up liberal- yes, it seems I was projecting my own experience. I initially identified as pro-life, even though I was uncomfortable with it, simply because I found pro-lifers distasteful. I've since come around on this. It was wrong to support abortion simply because I disliked the people who opposed it. And I think my liberal friends share a lot of ugly stereotypes about conservatives and the religous that I disagree with. But obviously none of this reflects your own experience. My main point, though- that disliking the people who support a cause is not a good reason to oppose that cause- still stands.

I’m all for creating the social/economic safety nets that would hopefully dissuade some women from having abortions. Every embryo/fetus not aborted is a victory, even if that means taking a large chunk of money from some other appropriation (the defense budget, for example) to craft and maintain such safety nets.

As for “person,” it’s a legal term that like all legal terms (“proximate cause,” “preponderance of the evidence,” etc.) is inexact and subject to varying interpretations.  Except for one point on the human life continuum, any other designation of “person” along that continuum is arbitrary. What is not arbitrary and inexact is that a distinct human “other” comes into existence at the moment of conception. This other is not his/her mother and not his/her father, but a genetically unique member of our species that IMO is entitled to both moral and legal recognition. It’s one of the failures of the pro-life movement, regrettably, that it has yet to convince a majority of people about the intrinsic value of nascent human life.     

@ Warren Patton:

disliking the people who support a cause is not a good reason to oppose that cause


Thank you again for this reminder. This is a very good point that I seem to often forget (maybe intentionally). 

The Church and many others who oppose abortion might find a somewhat more receptive audience if they did not also condemn most forms of contraception as gravely evil, leaving abstinence as the only real alternative to giving birth. Unfortunately, even a woman who freely chooses abstinence may find it necessary to poleax a male partner, which is arguably also evil, although, males being what we are, there is room for disagreement about the gravity.

Without disparaging the efficacy of the rosary, I think other possible reasons for gradually declining abortion rates

may be more reliable contraception methods and better sex education, both of which are often grimly opposed by pro-life people as steps to promiscuity.

And then there is this question:  For reducing abortion rates, is it more effective to harangue and shame a woman contemplating an abortion and to call her a slut and a murderer, or would it be better to ward off desperation by offering her loving support, public and private, through the months of the pregnancy and the early years of her baby? Sadly, that is not just a rhetorical question.

If this was only science fiction instead of the real world, I'd have everyone temporarily sterilzed at puberty and people would have to make a conscious decision to reverse that to have a child.  The abortion rate would plummet.  But probably conservatives would find that idea horrific.

disliking the people who support a cause is not a good reason to oppose that cause

Good reason or not, it's how people tend to think. That rancher chap in Nevada had a lot more support for his anti-government stance before he told the world "one more thing I know about the Negro." Maybe it's a lazy shortcut and unfit for philosophers, but most of us do judge causes and ideas in part by what we know or think we know, good or bad, about the people espousing them. Celebrity endorsements. Political advocacy. Sayings of the wise and holy. Saves time and effort at the cost of some accuracy.


Chastity belts for all! With modern synthetic materials they shouldn't chafe as much as they used to.

But who will keep the keys?

I get so tired of abortion discussions.  As soon as somebody brings up the question of whether or not the fetus is a person with a right to live same as other persons, immediately pro-choice people start give all sorts of good (heart-rending and serious) reasons for having abortions.  But rarely are they willing to address the question:  do abortions, especitally after the first few months kill real for true babies (very young persons)?  What most pro-choicers seem to want to avoid is saying, "Yes, I hate to say it, but I think it's OK to kill some babies".

It goes on and on.  Same ole, same ole.