Since the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — handed down June 24, 2022, reversing Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), many Catholic institutions have been targeted by violent radical groups including "Jane’s Revenge" and "Ruth Sent Us."
Churches have been vandalized and security has been heightened in prominent houses of worship, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.
My own neighborhood parish had a police car parked in front of the church for several Sundays after the high court spoke.
Such venom is directed towards the church because five of the justices who voted to overturn Roe are baptized Catholics. (The sixth baptized Catholic, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, is spared criticism because she opposed the majority decision.)
Despite the fact that Dobbs was based on constitutional arguments, that has not stopped critics from claiming Catholic justices imposed their religious views.
For example, in the July 5, 2022 edition of Newsday, the Rev. Thomas W. Goodhue, a Methodist clergyman, wrote in an op-ed, "The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. v. Wade, is a victory for Catholic and evangelical Christian churches. . . . It allows states to restrict abortion on theological beliefs. . . . "
Rev. Goodhue’s accusation is absurd.
If one reads the decision, one will easily grasp that the majority opinion held that the power to legally permit or not to permit abortion resides with the states, not the federal judiciary.
Hence, my home state of New York, unfortunately has the most permissive abortion legislation in the nation, approved by a duly elected legislature and signed into law by a governor — who happened to be a baptized Catholic.
The seeds of confusion that have led people to believe that Catholics on the court are driven by the theology of their church, were planted by New York’s former governor, Mario Cuomo, in his famous 1984 speech at the University of Notre Dame.
Cuomo, who claimed as a practicing Catholic he was personally opposed to abortion, came up with an argument to continue supporting it.
Wrapping himself in a false humility, he proclaimed that he could not "impose" his Catholic morality on non-Catholics.
Thanks to Cuomo, people from all walks of life in America have complained that the opposition of Catholic bishops to abortion has been based on church dogma.
However, the claim that the church’s position is based on articles of belief is mere sophistry.
Gary Wills, a noted left-wing historian, pointed out in The New York Review of Books (June 28, 1990), that the Catholic bishops do not view their position based on their faith, "it is not a religious issue when addressing the public at large. In that forum, they rely on natural law, common sense and probabilistic arguments. . . . "
The Most Rev. Howard Hubbard, the longtime very liberal bishop of the Diocese of Albany, New York, agreed with Wills’ observation:
"The abortion question is not purely an issue of Catholic doctrine. It is a basic issue of human rights, the right of the unborn child to exist. This is a burning concern shared by many Protestants and Jewish people and by people who hold no formal religious belief.
"In this regard, then, the issue cannot be presented simply as one religious community seeking to impose its doctrinal beliefs on the body politic.
"Consequently, I would suggest that we move away from such expressions as "forcing our beliefs on others," "religious values in public affairs" or behavior that is "sinful" . . . .
"Such phrases muddy the waters, because in discussing abortion, the Catholic Church and other citizens do so not only under the heading of religious belief but of human rights."
And the Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms the Wills and Hubbard position.
Here’s the relevant excerpt on the subject of abortion:
"The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: 'The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. . . . Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.' . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights."
So, with those facts in mind, one must ask, Why are the pro-abortion forces assailing the Catholic Church?
I can think of two reasons. First, the Catholic Church is one of the few world-wide religious institutions that has refused to bend on abortion.
The church’s consistency on the issue and its outspokenness drives the left crazy.
Second, it's chic in elite circles to attack the church because, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "anti-Catholicism remains the one acceptable form of intellectual bigotry in the United States."
Rather sad, but true.
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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