Lawmakers in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz approved a bill decriminalizing abortion during the…
Know why the Church teaches what it does about abortion
It would require having the best crystal ball on the market to predict the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the abortion case from Mississippi, but however the court rules, if it decides only to “narrowly” modify its Roe v. Wade decision of nearly 50 years ago, many Americans devoted to the sanctity of life will be unhappy. If it altogether reverses Roe, many Americans who want abortion to be available on demand will be displeased.
“Unhappy” and “displeased” may be putting it mildly.
Tempers will rise. The only certain forecast well may be that debate will continue regarding the right of unborn life to exist without being deliberately terminated. Those who, along with Catholic Church teaching, see unborn life as the life of a human being, with all the dignity and rights pertaining to that status, will have to explain and defend their position.
They will have to stand facing very high winds of cultural opinion, because they will have to voice their beliefs in an environment in which traditional morality, in many manifestations, is forgotten, ignored or criticized. Anything, everything, goes today.
Recently, a television sports news reporter interviewed a senior in a Catholic high school who is acclaimed as the best scholastic basketball player in his state. The reporter asked the young man what would be next in his life.
The Catholic high school star did not say it would be college, or the military, or learning the family business. Goodness knows, he did not say he was thinking about the seminary. He said that in a few days he would be 18, in June he would graduate, as would his girlfriend, and then they would get jobs, move into the same apartment, and begin adult life. Marriage? Who knows? Maybe one day. Maybe not. Children? Maybe.
He is completing 12 years of Catholic education, during which time he surely heard Catholic moral teaching. As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but ….”
In another newscast, the wedding of a popular entertainer, his Catholic background was reported. His bride also has Catholic origins. Their two young sons were ring bearers. The reporter was not at all surprised.
Cohabitation is a way of life, as is easy divorce. Nobody questions artificial birth control, and many Catholics find Church doctrine on the question embarrassing at best, absurd at worst.
Euthanasia is coming, no doubt about it.
Abortion, and legal access to it, have their own serious implications to consider, but, overall, discussion about the moral propriety of abortion on demand is burdened by the increasingly widespread attitude in America, and throughout Western civilization, that something is immoral only if, and to the extent, that an individual person sees it as wrong for himself or herself.
Personal judgment is essential to any evaluation of morality, but also vital is admitting the fact that each one of us is limited in wisdom and prudence — a somewhat ominous thought until it is coupled with the realization that God, through Christ, echoed in the teachings of the Church, has shown us the better way.
The bottom line is that this cultural atmosphere has exaggerated individual human decision-making, and the righteousness of consequent action, setting the reality of a Supreme Being aside and, therefore, obviously, any revelation proceeding from a Supreme Being.
When arguments regarding abortion occur, think about what abortion is. Ponder why Catholic teaching celebrates the sanctity of marriage and values integral to marriage, such as lifelong commitment and fidelity. Bravely, and carefully, note sociological and psychological facts indicating that cohabitation is not inevitably as productive and fulfilling as some assume it to be. Study the rationality behind Catholic doctrine about artificial contraception.
Remember what Pope St. Paul VI predicted two generations ago, that in ignoring God and God’s revelation, pronounced by the Church, humanity would reap the whirlwind. Smart man.
Msgr. Owen F. Campion is OSV’s chaplain.