Thursday, 23 September 2010

In response to a pro-life blog entry

The entry is here.

My response:

Beautifully said, Cloister.

I grew up in a country where 'pro-life' meant clinic bombings, murder, frenzied abuse of women entering clinics. What pro-life really meant was "Once you're born, we don't really care what happens to you. We're pro-war, so we're happy for you to be cannon fodder; we'll cut social services, so we're happy for you to abused or neglected; we'll make sure you can't get proper health care or schooling if you're not affluent, so we're happy for you to have no opportunity or die early once you're out of the womb; oh, and if you get arrested - we're happy for you to die via injection or electric chair. And if you're not like us, we don't want you near us: we're pro-segregation, anti-gay, anti-anyone who isn't our clone."

So the real definition of pro-life is thus: "We're pro-life if you're white and middle-class; if you're not, you can have as many abortions as you like - we don't want more of you."

The shrillness, bullying and lack of integrity with which the campaign is run is breathtaking. You see the same with SPUC and its like: lovely to people who agree with them, abusive to those who don't. And pretending to be 'advice services' when what they do is force women to do what they want is just despicable.

I AM Catholic and pro-choice. I don't sit here easily, but I sit here with absolute conviction. As a cleric with far more empathy than you show here once said, "I don't agree with you - I don't think abortion is part of God's plan. I think we need to love and support the women who are considering this."

Ah. A *truly* - and far too rare - Christian, pro-life stance. And one that allowed us to lean on the fence and really talk - and discover that our values are, in fact, extremely similar, though our expression of them may not be. Unfortunately, reactions like yours shut off conversation and encourage polarity and entrenchment in extreme positions.

It occurred to you to be smug and self-congratulatory, patting yourself on the back for your orthodox stance. It occurred to you to be rigid. It occurred to you to question her right to be in God's Church - which is not YOUR place or business, but Christ's - but it never occurred to you to find out what her story was. As Cloister says, making a decision about abortion is difficult and heart-breaking. No woman does it for a good time, and the last thing she needs to do is be bullied. She needs *love*, *support* and someone who will *listen without judgment*.

That is something that will be your job as a priest. You need to reflect deeply and decide if you can do it. If not, then you have some hard thinking to do. Because let me tell you, if you find that response 'horrendous', you are in no way ready to deal with what your parishioners are living through.

Perhaps you need to go and learn from some of your Dominican brethren who, in my experience, are exemplary pastors - thoughtful, compassionate, orthodox, always charitable - and above all, ever aware of the spirit and nuance of the law.

Remember - For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
To assume you know God's will for anyone - and whether or not they are 'imperil[ing] their supernatural destiny' is the ultimate in arrogance. None of us has any idea of the mind of G-d; how He is choosing to work out His plan for any and all of us. To assume so is to worship an idol by creating Him in our image.

Instead, your encounter with that girl's comment should have been treated as holy. As a moment of meeting, as a moment to wonder what her story might be, as a chance to reach out to her with compassion and show her that the pro-life movement may not be the monolith of intolerant, misogynist religious weirdos she may imagine them to be.

That was a missed opportunity. Don't, in your need to be right, miss the next one.

1 comment:

Ariel said...

Well said.

The last time I checked, being a Catholic meant the following: acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God; and acceptance of various other theological doctrines, including the Trinity and transubstantiation.

Granted, I'm not a Catholic. Even so, I find it more disturbing than I can say that this blogger dares to consider flat-out refusing the young woman her status as a Catholic simply because she doesn't agree with every single last teaching of the pope. She said she is Catholic. I presume this means she believes in Jesus, the Trinity, and whatnot.

The Jesus of the gospels does not judge sinners. He gives them love and support, and encourages them to live more exemplary lives, but there's nothing smug or self-righteous in his attitude. I wish more of his followers would follow that line. So many pro-lifers don't.