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What Wasn't Said

One of the most well-received speeches at last weeks Democratic National Convention was the one given by Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby founded and supported by American women religious. Campbell was one of the principal organizers of the Nuns on the Bus tour that tried to raise awareness about poverty and the failings of the federal budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI).There was much in the speech with which I heartily agree, such as its criticisms of the Ryan Budget and its defense of the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, I had a hard time finding anything in the speech with which I disagreed. It was what wasn't said that bothered me.

At a convention where the Democratic Party's full-throated support of abortion rights was emphasized by speaker after speaker, Sr. Simones speech did not mention abortion at all. There was one tangential reference toward the end, where Sr. Simone stated that extending health insurance to the uninsured was part of my pro-life stance. The line provoked a roar of applause, no doubt because it allowed the overwhelmingly pro-choice crowd to rest secure in the (false) conviction that most pro-life advocates care nothing for the poor.

When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference on Women Religious earlier this year, it noted that while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church's social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death This comment provoked a great deal of criticism and numerous counter-examples were offered by the LCWRs defenders.Unfortunately, I think that Sr. Simones speech is an example of the problem the CDF was trying to highlight. While I have no doubt that her personal motivations for speaking were noble ones, there is no question that the leaders of the Democratic Party put her on that podium for a very specific reason. She was there to symbolize the support of the Church (or at least part of it) for the partys agenda. I do not think Sr. Simone sought such a role, but once it was thrust upon her, it came with a responsibility to present the social teaching of the Church in its fullness.American women religious have a noble and long-standing tradition of speaking truth to power. With respect to the unborn, however, are not the leaders of the Democratic Party an example of a power that needs to hear truth?Would it have been so difficult to invoke the late Cardinal Bernadins concept of a seamless garment? To recall, in the spirit of Hubert Humphrey, that the moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, the twilight of life, and the shadows of life? To highlight the political heroism of Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), who stood boldly for both health care reform and the right to life and lost his congressional seat as a result?I do not wish to hold Sr. Simone uniquely accountable for a problem that exists across the Churchs ideological spectrum. For years, politically conservative Catholicsand more than a few bishopshave presented a truncated version of Catholic social teaching that appears to suggest that the only morally acceptable option for Catholics is to pull the lever for the Republican Party.The solution, though, is not to become a mirror image of the other side. It is for Catholics to develop a truly independent voice that can hold both parties accountable, supporting them when they defend the common good and the dignity of the human person and challenging them when they do not. Its clear we have a long way to go.

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So did Cardinal Dolan.Jean,Here is the relevant text from Dolan's address.We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.

what were any substantial pro-life gains?Bush did not allow new stem-cell research; i.e. no new embryos could be grown outside the womb to produce cells for experimentation. Unfortunately, that was reversed by Obama under the faulty logic that scientific exploration is not subject to moral limits.

David N.--About your 11:23 am post...You've seriously jumped the shark. Though I would defend against all comers your First Amendment right to publish such drivel, that doesn't make your attempt at satire (?) any less silly.

Moral wrongs remain wrong even if the person committing them believes they are morally good. The secular saying ignorance of the law is no defense is apropos.Bruce,They remain morally wrong (if they are morally wrong to begin with), but a person who does something that is "objectively" morally wrong believing it is morally good is not culpable of any wrongdoing. When it comes to moral culpability, ignorance is a defense.Humans killing other humans is not a religiously founded belief. Basic biology and all our lives are testaments to the fact that fertilized eggs are the start of human life.The belief that a fertilized egg is a human person with a right to life is a religious belief, in my opinion, or a philosophical belief that is not open to proof. There is a legitimate debate over the status of a fertilized human egg or an early embryo, and all you are doing is asserting you are correct. But this debate has been carried out on blogs thousands of times, and there's no point in going through the whole thing again. You have absolutely no basis for this conclusion [that society doesn't need the babies that are aborted]I think it would be a bizarre anti-abortion argument that society needed the babies that were aborted. To quote myself in an earlier message, "Would anyone in their right minds honestly want to see a 70% increase in the birth rate in New York City, with the increase being mostly among poor blacks and Hispanics?" (I am speaking about economic concerns here, not about racial ones.) One might be able to argue something along the lines that a much higher birth rate would be better for future Social Security recipients, but of course that would mean the birth rate would have to keep increasing indefinitely. And it would mean we would have to adequately deal with all the births to poor people in such a way as to get their children taken care of, educated, and turned into productive workers.

hough I would defend against all comers your First Amendment right to publish such drivel, that doesnt make your attempt at satire (?) any less silly.william collier,This doesn't sound like you. You don't get angry very often.Obviously it was meant satirically. Whether it succeeds or not is not for me to say, although clearly since I pressed the SUBMIT button (which I don't always do), I think it has some merit. I'd be happy to defend pretty much any point in it. I am vary ambivalent about abortion, but the standard-issue pro-lifer (particularly the professional pro-lifers) are doing about as much as possible to alienate people like me as they possibly can.

The belief that a fertilized egg is a human person with a right to life is a religious belief, in my opinionDavid,I assert that you are a human person who began life as a fertilized egg. There is nothing religious about that statement: it is a biological fact. Had that embryo which has grown to you been aborted, the human person, David Nickol's life would have been shortened. That is also a biological fact. No opinion, religious or otherwise, is necessary.

Would anyone in their right minds honestly want to see a 70% increase in the birth rate in New York City, with the increase being mostly among poor blacks and Hispanics?David,I suggest that you re-read that statement over and over. If it still doesn't click, try substituting Jew for Black and Catholic for Hispanic.

Jean,Here is the relevant text from Dolans address.We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected.Bruce,Yah, I read his benediction already. Several times. I meant that Cardinal Dolan participated in Abortion-palooza, if that's how you're characterizing the Democratic National Convention, just the same as Sister Simone. So I don't get how you can condemn her participation and extoll hers.

Condemn her participation and extoll HIS. Sorry.

I suggest that you re-read that statement over and over. If it still doesnt click, try substituting Jew for Black and Catholic for Hispanic.Bruce,If you substitute different groups in it, then it isn't true. In 2009 in New York City, approximately 60% of African-American womens unborn babies were aborted, 41% for Hispanic women, 23% for Asians, and 21% for Caucasians. There is nothing bigoted about pointing out that among these groups, it is largely poorer women who have abortions. There is also nothing racist about pointing out that if only 40% of African American babies not aborted, and if only 59% of Hispanic babies not aborted, preventing all women from aborting would cause a huge increase in the birthrate of these two populations, who also currently have a 73% (African American) and 53% (Hispanic) out-of-wedlock birth rate. If you think it is somehow racist or bigoted to point out that a dramatic increase in the birthrate of the poorer women in these two populations would be an economic disaster, then feel free to call me a racist. The fact is that pro-lifers like yourself never give a thought to what would become of the hundreds of thousands of babies you would like to force women, a great many of them poor, to have. Think of what the "pro-life" Republican party already wants to do to Medicaid. Now think of how that would work out if there was an explosion in the birthrate of the groups most served by Medicaid.

In 2009 in New York City, approximately 60% of African-American womens unborn babies were aborted, 41% for Hispanic women, 23% for Asians, and 21% for Caucasians.Of course, the solution I would like to see is that no woman conceives a baby that she does not want to have, or at least to carry to term and give up for adoption to a loving home. But human nature being what it is, that is not going to happen, and the only practical and realistic solution I can see until human beings turn into angels is more and better contraception. Which of course pro-lifers (or Catholic pro-lifers) oppose. It is shocking (even to me) that there are so many abortions, but that does not take away from the fact that it would be an economic catastrophe in the very unlikely even that all of those abortions could be prevented.

Gerelyn, Im surprised and dismayed by this statement. The commandment in not Thou shalt not die; its Thou shalt not kill. The problem with abortion is not that embryos die, but rather that they are killed with malice and aforethought by other humans.------------------The decision to abort a pregnancy is made in a brain, by a human. Maybe the human brain makes the decision in the old reptilian area, maybe in the limbic system, maybe in the neocortex. But wherever the decision is made, and at whatever stage in the pregnancy, it's made by a HUMAN. Our understanding of decision making is embryonic. Reading a little about brain evolution and neuroscience can be helpful. Here's a little debate by two scientists:http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/apr/29/neuroscience-david-eaglema...

"As to Sr. Simone, she actively participated in the Abortion-palooza. If I were her, I certainly would not want to try to justify my participation to my Maker."Bruce -You are obviously implying that Sr. Simone is guilty. Cut it out.

"If they dont believe they are doing something wrong, then abortion is no problem for them. It is not as if society needs the babies that are aborted."David N. --So a person's value is determined by his/her being *needed* by others? The Jews weren't needed by the Nazis. So it was OK to kill them?You also say: " It is also not as if babies that are aborted need to be brought to term and grow to adulthood. It is beyond presumptuous to try to view abortion from the view of the aborted."Why? They smile, show painful expressions. If we cut them, do they not bleed?" Ones attitude toward abortion is really a matter of religious belief or nonbelief"It is sometimes a matter of religious belief. Only sometimes. For many of us it is a philosophical= psychological-biological matter."if everyone would respect everyone elses right to believe, we wouldnt have this extremely divisive battle."tIf this were simply a matter of belief, the issue would still be whether or not there are millions of innocent children being killed.

So a persons value is determined by his/her being *needed* by others? Ann,I am not assuming the unborn, at least earlier on in pregnancy, are persons. I am saying nobody knows. Nobody even can know. And if that is the case, what would be society's reason for prohibiting abortion? Why? They smile, show painful expressions. If we cut them, do they not bleed?Babies don't actually smile until about 6 to 8 weeks after birth. Even ardent pro-lifers don't claim pain unit the 20th week of pregnancy. It is impossible to imagine oneself in the place of, say, a 12-week-old fetus and give a reasonable description of what the experience is likeeven though we have all had the experience! But actually it is misleading to say we had the experience. We certainly don't remember. We can't remember, because we did not have the ability to form memories. We weren't even "we" at the time. If this were simply a matter of belief, the issue would still be whether or not there are millions of innocent children being killed.And if it were simply a matter of belief, it would be an issue that couldn't be settled by a political party or a legislature. So better to let each individual act according to his or her own beliefs.

You are obviously implying that Sr. Simone is guilty. Cut it out.Ann,Stop judging what you know not!

There is nothing bigoted about pointing out that among these groups, it is largely poorer women who have abortionsDavid,So because they are poor it is ok for their children to die? So because it might create an "economic disaster" they should abort their children? At least Sr. Simone did not say we should require abortion for all the 'poor' because it is preventing an 'economic disaster'. Or perhaps we should require sterilization for 'poor'? Oh, my mistake, we did that already and its now considered heinous. You need to really re-read what you have written.

I am not assuming the unborn, at least earlier on in pregnancy, are personsDavid,You are assuming they at NOT human beings. That is biologically false and you are living proof of it.

So I dont get how you can condemn her participation and extoll hisJean,His was a prayer and he explicitly mentioned the unborn; hers was a political speech where she specifically obfuscated the abortion issue. I'm sure she does many good works, but she cannot use that as an excuse for weakness in other areas; thats utilitarianism. We all fail in various ways, I pray God will forgive mine but I certainly dont pray that the little good I hopefully do offsets the bad. Seems to willful and hubristic to me.

I'm going to let everyone in on a BIG secret: I suspect that the majority of the US population, while having (on the extremes - unalterable) a variety of opinions on abortion, don't really think that it is THE major issue upon which this election (or any election) will turn. Sr. Simone was invited for political purposes, as was EVERY OTHER speaker at both love-ins. Conventions are about politics, not a review of the CCC and the latest US ecclesiastical cause celebre of the moment. Dolan most likely could have taken his clothes off and dance the hokey-pokely (1) for all that anyone would care and (2) for all the anyone would have seen.This is a secular society in which the 2 surviving political parties have coalesced around certain positions, one of which is pro-choice and the other, anti-choice. NEITHE ONE IS PRO-ABORTION, teapublican republicath die-hard biases to the contrary. The small percentage of die-hard voters will "stand by their man" and the rest will vote based upon the other things that they think important and worth supporting "their man" for.All in all, I think the the President is more favorable to the wide variety of things I think important and he has my vote!

Another reason, I think, for the impasse on reducing abortions is that many of the most vocal abortion opponents are also strongly anti-contraception, anti-family planning. Its a no-brainer that a major way to reduce abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancies through effective family planning, but many pro-lifers seem to oppose that. Which does make me question the movement somewhat; people seem to be saying we want to reduce abortion, it's our major issue, but rather than using a menu of options, we insist it needs to happen by a single strategy (outlawing it). The strategy they have chosen is the most problematic one for other voters, but if those other voters don't go along with it, well then, they're just not pro-life. I would think if pro-lifers really meant what they say about abortion being their number one issue and the greatest of evils, they would compromise and support expanded contraceptive access and and expanded safety net programs for poor families, no matter how much they would otherwise object to such initiatives.

Cardinal Dolan dancing the hokey-pokey? "That's what it's all about."

At least Sr. Simone did not say we should require abortion for all the poor because it is preventing an economic disaster. Or perhaps we should require sterilization for poor? Oh, my mistake, we did that already and its now considered heinous. You need to really re-read what you have written.Bruce,We don't require abortion or sterilization for anyone. Women have abortions by their own free choice because they don't want the babies. In fact, they have abortions because they don't even want to be pregnant. Abortion providers don't create the demand for abortion. They exist because women seek abortions. Without doing extended research, I'd say it appears that perhaps 15,000 women a year give up their babies for adoption and a million abort them. So (very roughly) 1% of women who don't want their babies go through with the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption, and 99% of them have an abortion.What is the solution of the pro-life movement to dealing with a million unwanted babies per year. I am not suggesting they should be abortion. I am merely stating the fact that they are aborted, and I am asking what you (and the Republican Party) would be willing to do to help take care of a million more children every year, most of them born to poor women. I am suggesting that you and the pro-life movement are not willing to stand up to the consequences of what you claim to advocate. Republicans want tax cuts for the rich, more spending on defense, no tax increases. How in the world do you plan to take care of a million new extra children a year, many if not most of them poor?

Interestingly, while Sister Simone Campbell felt qualified to proclaim (on behalf of the Church, she seems to think) that Ryans budget proposals are contrary to Catholic faith, when interviewed recently by the Weekly Standard, she could not bring herself to say that abortion should not be legal, claiming all that sort of thing is beyond her pay grade, that she did not know.http://www.weeklystandard.com/keyword/Simone-CampbellMy goodness.

"Im sure she does many good works, but she cannot use that as an excuse for weakness in other areas."How does one know she's using good works as an excuse for "weakness" in other areas. And aren't we all deficient? Aren't Sister's critics essentially saying that they expect nothing less than perfection from her? Or maybe it's just that unless you uphold the Church's teaching against abortion first, you better not say anything at all to uphold any other doctrine.

My goodness.Ken,That's what it's all about for the pro-lifers, isn't it. Their own goodness, and the badness of everyone who disagrees with them. Sister Simone Campbell was asserting (whether true or not is debatable, but I don't doubt here sincerity) that women want to keep their babies but can't afford to do so without help. She is asking for that help to be available. On the other hand, pro-lifers like McCormack just want to make it so difficult to get an abortion that tens of thousands of women will not be able to. And what does he want to do to help those women? Here's the deal from my point of view. Pro-lifers fall all over themselves to paint women who have abortions as victims. There are in tough spots and don't know what else to do other than get an abortion. So what do pro-lifers want to do? Give women facing unwanted pregnancies more options? No, they simply want to make it difficult for them to get abortions. In my satirical prayer above, I quoted something from the Declaration on Procured Abortion. It says, "It is the task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person." How in the world does making it difficult or impossible to get an abortion do that?

Well David, think what you like, and Sister Simone Campbell can think as she likes, but the Church has said time and again for centuries and centuries, that no matter how you cut it, abortion is murder plain and simple.

"she could not bring herself to say that abortion should not be legal"Why does one have to push for abortion to be illegal to be pro-life? Especially if one thinks that making it illegal will not do anything to reduce abortions?

many of the most vocal abortion opponents are also strongly anti-contraception, anti-family planning. Its a no-brainer that a major way to reduce abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancies through effective family planning,Irene,These statements on their face seem true, unfortunately they are not. Conception depends on the number of sexual intercourses and their success rate. In the case of contraception, the success rate is how often contraception fails. In practice, this is about 10%. So contraception will never eliminate abortions. Further, using contraception implies, by definition, that any child conceived is not wanted, which makes the likelihood of abortion higher.Here is a link to a first person account rebutting your statement as well.http://www.ignitumtoday.com/2012/09/06/the-failure-rate/

Ken,Sister Simone Campbell did not contradict the teachings of the Church. She declined to answer a question about civil law. What if I ask you a similar question. Should it be illegal to procure an abortion. What is your answer, and is it in conformity with the teachings of the Church?

What is the solution of the pro-life movement to dealing with a million unwanted babies per year.David,Control your sexual appetites unless and until you are willing to accept the child that may result. Please stop with the economic arguments, they can never justify the wanton killing of the unborn. Any political plan or no political plan is no justification either. Those are just distractions from the horror of abortion. Face the issue head-on.The Malthusian view of population growth has been resilient despite having been proven wrong time and time again. Human progress is people. Everything that makes life better, from democracy to the economy to the internet to penicillin was either discovered and built by people. More people means more progress. The inventor of the cure for cancer might be someone's fourth child that they decided not to have.http://www.businessinsider.com/time-to-admit-it-the-church-has-always-be...

Bruce- To avoid an of unwanted pregnancy, I'm pretty sure using contraception would definitely do more to prevent its occurrence than NOT using contraception. But I think you have a point about contraceptive failure, in addition to access, we also need to provide education to ensure people use birth control effectively and responsibly. But even if you're skeptical about the effectiveness of contraception, don't you think it's worth a try to see if widespread access might reduce abortions? And if it does, we can all celebrate, right?

The decision to abort a pregnancy is made in a brain, by a human...GerelynDrivel

one of which is pro-choice and the other, anti-choice. NEITHER ONE IS PRO-ABORTION, Jim,You are too smart to make this statement. The choice is the ability to have an abortion. Using your logic, I suggest we construct a law which allows a woman to choose but outlaws abortion with no penalty for the mother. She has a 'choice' but its practically unavailable. Unless I'm completely mis-informed, that is not what the NARAL and Planned Parenthood speakers, nor Caroline Kennedy meant when they said they are pro-choice.

Before taking the podium at the DNC to denounce the moral failings of the Republican candidates, she was asked by John McCormack of the Weekly Standard whether she believed that performing abortions should be illegal. Her response? "That's beyond my pay grade. I don't know."This is astounding. In Sister Simone's moral universe, there is only one just policy when it comes to government spending on social programs (more of it), but the undeniable implications of an unchanging Catholic principle -- namely the Fifth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" -- are beyond her pay grade.More herehttp://www.eppc.org/publications/pubID.4838/pub_detail.asp

Read Humanae Vitae David. Pope Paul VI explained it quite well:http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Paul06/p6humana.htm

Read Humanae Vitae David. Pope Paul VI explained it quite well:Ken,Be serious. The point of a blog conversation is not to invent required reading for those who disagree with you. It's about your own ideas. If you can't make the case that needs to be made, don't refer me to papal encyclicals or any other outside sources. And as for Humanae Vitae, even the majority of the experts who advised the pope on the topic disagreed with it. What in the world makes you think it would convince me of anything? It hasn't convinced the vast majority of Catholics.

It is amazing how many conservatives here and on other blogs think they can convince people who disagree with them by providing a link to National Review Online. You might as well quote Romney, Ryan, and the speakers at the Republican National Convention. Actually, Romney, Ryan, and some of the speakers at the Republican National Convention are probably less partisan than National Review!

Clearly, Bruce has a litmus test, and Sr. Simone didn't pass it. Peter has a slightly more sophisticated litmus test that is actually I think the same, under the surface. He puts it in situational terms, saying the convention was a moment for Sr. Simone to speak truth to power and because she didn't the LCWR investigation was proved legitimate and necessary. In other words, the justice of taking away autonomy from an entire organization of nuns is proved by something she DIDN'T say. That's a litmus test.I agree with Cathy Kaveny. It's not clear what good it does to make bold statements that don't convince the audience to whom you are speaking, and truthfully probably don't convince anybody. But Bruce has implicitly offered a reason to make bold statements that don't convince anybody -- you prove thereby that you are a member of the tribe. What you are proving is that you belong, not that abortion is wrong or should be illegal or that Democrats need to change or anything else. We're oddly back to Abe's charming suggestion of wearing a button to identify Catholics. Come to think of it, the defenders of the Vatican-initiated takeover of the LCWR have voiced a similar tribe-oriented agenda. The bishops define the tribe, and the LCWR has to make the kind of statements the male hierarchs think are necessary to prove they belong. If they don't make these statements -- whether or not the statements convince anybody, whether or not they help anybody, whether or not the effect any positive change whatsoever in people's lives -- they don't belong. They must make them. What was it that Levada said, something about "protecting our brand"?Now, it seems to me that today, with people walking away from the Church, finding the leadership to not be credible, voting with their feet, feeling the leaders are not in touch with the followers, we need a massive injection of the kind of speaking that considers the audience. We don't need more boundary setting, clearer lines, less ambiguity; we don't need more prophetic utterances, more "talking at" people. And we certainly don't need more litmus tests. We need more pastoral thinking and outreach, speaking to people where they are and taking them a step at a time toward a future place that will be better. If this doesn't happen, what are we left with? A tight circle. The Amish alternative. That, my friends, is not the Catholic way. Sr. Simone has built a little bridge here, and people want to knock it down, but I think she has done right and done well because there have to be bridges. If we knock them down, we'll be stuck on an island.

"Its not clear what good it does to make bold statements that dont convince the audience to whom you are speaking, and truthfully probably dont convince anybody."So if we remove all such statements from this blog, what would remain?For what it's worth I find the statement that we shouldn't make bold statements pretty high on the bold-o-meter.

David Sorry; I did not mean to offend. On reviewing my post, it did seem gruff. I did not mean to give "required reading", but meant only that Paul VI explained this matter much better than I possibly can. You may not agree with the Church on this (sounds like you do not), but on reading HV, one must admit that pope Paul VI's explanation is quire clear and easy to understand.

Oops, the "brand" comment was Levada on the Farley censure, not the LCWR. Oh, Mark Proska, the blog? If Sr. Simone's speech had been on a blog, nobody would have taken the least notice. And besides, the blog audience is, uh, undefined. I am glad you credit me with boldness, however! ;)

Ok David, here is a quote that is not from NRO:"...Here's the thing though: the Catholic Church is the world's biggest and oldest organization. It has buried all of the greatest empires known to man, from the Romans to the Soviets. It has establishments literally all over the world, touching every area of human endeavor. It's given us some of the world's greatest thinkers, from Saint Augustine on down to Ren Girard. When it does things, it usually has a good reason. Everyone has a right to disagree, but it's not that Catholics are a bunch of crazy old white men who are stuck in the Middle Ages. ...Is that better?

"I am glad you credit me with boldness, however!"My pleasure, Rita! I too am fond of boldness. As for not saying things to people because they won't agree with them, I think we need to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work his magic. Some seed will fall on barren soil, true, but some will not. I've seen things grow in the most unexpected of places.

Rita, absolutely on target. I have nothing more I could possibly say here. I will spare everyone further comments from me!

But Bruce has implicitly offered a reason to make bold statements that dont convince anybody you prove thereby that you are a member of the tribe. What you are proving is that you belong, not that abortion is wrong or should be illegal or that Democrats need to change or anything else.Rita,Thanks for the bold insight. The implicitly offered reason you see never entered my mind. I believe the reason to keep saying things that need to be said, even if they produce no immediate change, is that they do not allow the audience to complacently assume the speaker agrees with them. Sr. Simone may have built a bridge, perhaps its a bridge to nowhere.

But even if youre skeptical about the effectiveness of contraception, dont you think its worth a try to see if widespread access might reduce abortions? And if it does, we can all celebrate, right?Irene,I'm all for experimenting to see what works. I just think we have already run this experiment and it has failed.

Irene Widespread access to contraceptives? How much more access do people need? Please help me understand what you mean. Contraceptives are not expensive certainly they are within the reach of lower and middle classes. Moreover, for many years now, any poor person in America has access to either very cheap or free contraception.Please elaborate on your point - thx

Hi Bruce,Sorry, I won't thank you for your sarcasm. However, I accept your answer that you never thought you were doing a litmust test. You seem to prove my point, nonetheless, when you say:"I believe the reason to keep saying things that need to be said, even if they produce no immediate change, is that they do not allow the audience to complacently assume the speaker agrees with them."Saying things that "need to be said." Never mind the audience or how they hear it: if you have to say it that's sufficient, eh? This is the perfect example of "talking at" people. Don't you see that?And not allowing the audience to assume that the speaker agrees with them? That's boundary policing. How about this: Sr. Simone is allowing her audience to think that the speaker respects them in disagreement well enough to want to emphasize the places where agreement exists and can be built upon -- without constantly throwing the most painful points of disagreement in their faces. I think this is a better construction to place on the exchange, and it opens a way forward instead of throwing up a roadblock.You see, I am rather happy that there are people who, although they disagree with me on one matter, can talk to me on things we do agree about without constantly harping on the point of contention. And I'd like to return the favor. If every time a Protestant talked to me, for example, he or she felt it "needed to be said" that they disagree with Catholics about the pope, or the seven sacraments, or whatever, it would be more than tedious. It would assure that we operate with daggers drawn, all the time. That's not politic, that's not smart human relations, and that's not gospel. That's ideology. Thankfully, there are people who look for other strategies. To take another example: Haven't you ever been cornered by someone who wants to hold you personally responsible for the Spanish Inquisition? "It needs to be said" -- Oh boy, I can just hear it! Is that the sort of discourse you really want? Because the more we do that to others, the more they will do it to us. That's what I mean about polarization. Jean,Thank you for seeing my point and seconding it! I've appreciated all your interventions here and am grateful for them.

Rita,When the a substantial fraction of the DNC 'conversation' was devoted to 'reproductive rights', 'war-on-women' and 'choice', that is not someone '...talk(ing) to me on things we do agree about without constantly harping on the point of contention...'No one suggested that it would have been proper for Sr. Simone to devote her 10 minutes to antagonizing the audience, but 10 words is an entirely different matter, particularly when she by her very calling represents Christ's church.And all her 'pay grade' answer had to be was something to the effect of 'The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is morally wrong'. Thats not antagonistic nor harping; its just stating a well known truth.

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