A New Front in the Church’s Civil War

The “pro-life” case for pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Kathleen Sebelius.

Hence, Doug Kmiec, also a member of the group, can speak of the Church’s stance on abortion as an “opinion,” writing last year that it is proper for abortion law to “leave space for the exercise of individual judgment, because our religious or scientific differences of opinion are for the moment too profound to be bridged collectively.”

This is not a faithful representation of the Church’s teaching on abortion but a species of fideism that renders Kmiec’s “pro-life” credentials largely meaningless.

Perversely, the group saves its certitudes for the least certain elements in politics today, assuming, for example, that Sebelius’ specific plan for “universal health care” is unquestionably good and represents Church teaching (the Church takes no stance on such a prudential matter, so that claim counts as another deception on the site).

The banner for catholicsforsebelius.org—“A Health and Human Services Secretary for the Common Good”—is Orwellian in the thoroughness of its deception: Sebelius’ support for abortion is bad for the health of women, a denial of human service to unborn children, and baldly contradicts the common good, which rests on the natural moral law. If she is qualified to lead HHS, then Dr. Kevorkian is qualified to run Medicare. 

Somehow, according to the group’s conjecture, Sebelius’ pro-abortion policies have generated pro-life results in Kansas: “because of Governor Sebelius’ efforts, abortions in Kansas have declined by 10 percent during her time as governor.”

“Because of”? No, in spite of. Sebelius is a longtime opponent of restrictions on abortion, has openly said that “inalienable rights” do not extend to children “in utero,” and even has fundraising ties to abortionist George Tiller. She hasn’t reduced abortions, but worked to prevent pro-lifers from reducing abortions.

And even if one were to humor the group’s whopper for the sake of argument, it would hardly merit a job recommendation; the posturing involved here is disgracefully silly, akin to patting a thief on the back for reducing his yearly robberies from 10 to nine.

“[T]he appointment of Governor Sebelius places another Catholic supporting legalized abortion in a prominent national position. She joins Vice-President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and unfortunately a host of Catholic senators and members of the House of Representatives who support legalized abortion contrary to the clear and consistent teaching of their Church,” noted Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann after Sebelius’ nomination. “It saddens me that so many Catholics, to gain political advancement, have chosen to compromise their Catholic faith by their failure to defend the most fundamental of all human rights—the right to life.”

Through canonical indifference and catechetical collapse, the post-Vatican II American Church has bred her own destroyers—not just this old generation of pro-abortion Catholic politicians who have thwarted the Church at every important turn and now stand ready to preside over the death of Catholic hospitals, with the final poison to be administered by a Catholic HHS secretary, but now even a new generation of disingenuous “pro-lifers” who serve as a back-up platoon to excuse the destruction.

A new, disorienting front has opened up in the Church’s civil war and disguised dissenters rush into it. By comparison to the casuistry of Catholics for Kathleen Sebelius, the faded group Catholics for Free Choice looks almost honest. At least its former head Frances Kissling didn’t bother to work up a fantastical “pro-life” case for pro-abortion politicians. She paid the Church the small courtesy of open disagreement.

George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.

Modern liberal Catholics chuckle at the history of casuistry in the Church even as they contribute grimly absurd new examples to it. They use tortured reasoning not to discuss the properties of angels but to cloud the records of abortion proponents.

How many dissenting, not very angelic Catholic politicians can dance with modernists’ approval at the head of a pro-abortion administration? An astonishing number, it turns out, and the list is growing. Kathleen Sebelius is the latest Catholic appointment to seize upon their strained sophistries.

No sooner had President Barack Obama nominated the governor of Kansas to head up the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) than “26 Catholic leaders, scholars, and theologians” started up a petition and website to support her.

The website is riddled with deceptions. The first one is the group’s self-description as pro-life and “faithful” to Catholicism. It isn’t. Most of its members—such as Lisa Sowle Cahill and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels—wish to liberalize magisterial teaching and falsely regard the Church’s pro-life stance as a sectarian claim (with which they happen to agree) and not a truth accessible to the reason of all.

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