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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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I'm uneasy criticizing Sr Simone for what she didn't say in a small statement which was mainly about the Ryan budget and nuns on the bus. Are we going to criticize every short statement every bishop or pope makes which is also silent on abortion ? I don't think so. Especially as at this convention Sr Simone would reasonably expect Cdl Dolan to have explicitly challenged the DNC on abortion and life issues, which he did.It is simply wrong, unreasonable and ridiculous to expect every statement every Church representative ever makes to, as Peter Nixon puts it, "present the social teaching of the Church in its fullness".God Bless

Sister Simone spoke for seven minutes at the Democratic convention. She was not invited, nor was it her purpose, to present the whole body of Catholic teaching. She was there to do again what she and her sisters had done on the bus, criticize Paul Ryan's budget from a Catholic perspective. Yet in the course of doing that, she spoke of active concern for the poor "as part of my pro-life stance." Far from being tangential, that phrase, spoken in that setting, gave grit and substance to her message, showing that it proceeds from a coherent and inclusive belief in the sacredness of human life that must be admired even by people who may not share it.She said, This I believe, and this too! And the delegates applauded her courage and genuineness.

I'll repeat the comment I quoted on another thread: the nuns are being criticized for not doing the bishops' job. By the way, Abp. Dolan didn't mention the word abortion either.

Sister Simone had seven minutes. She failed to mention the divinity of Christ, the communion of saints, the Assumption, the Vatican's current stand on Jerusalem -- which is not what either platform reflects -- and, by name, abortion. Where she was speaking, it probably would take more than seven minutes to lead the bulk of her audience past Point One on abortion.She had been on a bus trip to heighten awareness of what the so-called "Ryan budget" would do to the sisters' work among the poor, the marginal and the neglected. That would be what she wanted to talk about and what the Democrats would be interested having a national audience hear. She said that was she was saying is "part of my pro-life stance." Pro-life, in that context, means the opposite of "pro-choice." It may have given some of her hearers a new way of thinking about the "pros." That was a truthful word spoken to power. And the rest of her message (it needs to be said) would have been inconvenient truths to many in her audience. The Democratic Party is no longer the party of the poor, the marginal and neglected, although they are vestigially mentioned in its rhetoric.Nothing prevented the Republicans from inviting a Catholic to talk about abortion, but they didn't. Whoever gave them such a speech probably would be open to charges of failure to speak up for the poor and immigrants (and all the other things Sister Simone omitted). And why would we be surprised?I am for all-Bernardin all the time everywhere. But some of his brother bishops were already antsy about him while he was lived. The Church's lack of Tee-totalers began before, and runs deeper than, this year's party conventions.

Cardinal Dolan did not mention abortion, not once, in his closing prayer. I fact, he didn't even say he was pro-life, as did Sr. Simone. The only place where he made any oblique reference to abortion was here: "We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of natures God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community. May we welcome those who yearn to breathe free and to pursue happiness in this land of freedom, adding their gifts to those whose families have lived here for centuries."Get off Sr. Simone's back and on the bus.

The simple fact of the matter is that pro-life Democrats are in a much better position than pro-life Republicans to encourage the Democratic party--and hence, the country--to embrace a pro-life agenda. That's why it is such a tragedy when they do not take opportunities to do so. Speaking truth to power is so hard because often we are too close to the power to see it for what it is. Note the reaction of the "power" of those who hold the majority opinionn on this blog to Mr. Nixon's temperate and really quite modest request.

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

I think she spoke about the most important problems of the Ryan and Republican budget, and mentioned abortion as many times as Jesus did. It wasn't apropos at that time.

I would like to see a progressive pro-life platform that does not entail outlawing abortion. I could support additional reasonable restrictions on elective abortions if the proposals also included, among other things, an ambitious comprehensive proposal to eliminate child poverty, which is currently around 20%. I think at this time only pro-life Democrats could put forward a proposal like this; I don't believe Republicans would support a massive expansion of the safety net for children, even if it came with additional legal restrictions on abortion. Or am I mistaken on this?

I would have liked to have heard something more explicit, but given all the vetting speeches have to go through I'm impressed she got that much in. I think the disappointment should be much less focused on Sister Simone than on the intense focus on abortion rights (Melinda Henneberger called it the AbortionPalooza convention) and the shutting out of pro-life Dems. They have played such a key role, and they are getting hammered by their own party and its pro-choice leaders on one side and by bishops and rightwing Catholics on the other. It's a real shame.

I too wish that the Pro-life Democrats were given a voice, but I think that the pro-choice voices were quite subdued.This morning on ABC's "This Week", Cokie Roberts registered her disappointment about how much the pro-choice agenda was presented at the Democratic Convention (just as I am renewing my membership in Democrats for Life). She said that 30% of the Democrats are pro-life. I would like to verify that. The Republicans have taken the pro-life agenda as one of their main political talking points, but they have nothing but rhetoric. They have big money from Republicans, Carl Anderson, Supreme (?) Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and the supposedly non-partisan Susan B. Anthony List to name a few. They had enough money to bring down pro-life Democrats who voted for the ACA. This small group of pro-life Democrats can't compete with that kind of money. But I am hopeful. I recall David and Goliath.

I didn't hear Cd. Dolan deliver the benedictions at either of the conventions, but the text reported in the press for the DNC benediction appears to have more than an oblique reference to abortion:"Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected."As to Sr. Simone, I also don't question her pro-life bona fides, but I agree with Peter that she was added to the list of speakers primarily for political purposes (as were all of the speakers). Her speech was no doubt as studiously vetted for conformity with the platform as were all of the other speeches, excluding perhaps Clinton's and Obama's. It would be interesting to know if the draft Sr. Simone submitted to the DNC had more specific reference to unborn life, and if her "as part of my pro-life stance" was on the teleprompter.

Jean, Cardinal Dolan did in fact mention abortion more explicitly than that. His words: "We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected." It's here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/cardinal-dolan-benediction-rnc-... I agree with Peter's comments. I admire Sr. Simone's work a great deal, and I think her comments about the Romney/Ryan budget were right on. And for the work she does on a daily basis, she deserved every bit of the raucus applause she received at the convention. But her proclamation that "we care for the 100 percent!" without challenging, for just a few seconds, the "abortion-palooza" (as Melinda Henneberger called it) in progress is disappointing. Paired with that single line I cited from Cardinal Dolans convention prayer, what a fine witness the two would have offered that unlike either party the Catholic Church does indeed stand in defense of life in all its stages and circumstances, and that it is beholden to no party or platform.

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment and ask this question: "Why should we care?" It is not as if this is China with forced abortions. Each abortion in the United States is the result of an individual woman's decision. In their own bizarre way, even the most ardent pro-lifers don't really question a woman's right to seek an abortion. Pro-lifers are adamantly opposed to holding women legally responsible in any way for procuring an abortion. What they seek to do is punish abortionists and try to make it more difficult for women to procure abortions. I do not want to carry on the discussion here that recently ended over on Mirror of Justice, but it is crystal clear that pro-lifers are adamantly against holding women legally responsible for procuring abortions. Not jail time, not counseling, not community service, not even a fine waived in the first two cases of procured abortion.This is a battle that in many ways makes no sense. I know that there are many sincere people who are appalled by legal abortions in the United States, but again, my question is, "Why should we care?" Why should the Democratic Party not support abortion rights? As I say, legally speaking, even the most ardent pro-lifers aren't willing to tell women they can't get abortions. Lip service is paid to Pope Paul II and Mother Teresa saying abortion is a mother murdering her own children, but if the pro-life movement doesn't take that seriously, why should anyone else? If abortion were successfully ended in the United States today, I don't think anyone would be willing to deal with the economic consequences. In New York City, 41 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. 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? Now, I personally would be willing to pay increased taxes to help more poor people have and care for their babies, but what about the Republican party that gets so much credit from certain quarters for being "pro-life"? I am not interested in further debating the issue of whether or not women should be held legally responsible for abortion. But I would like someone to explain, sort of from the ground up, why we should care that the Democrats support abortion and the Republicans (pretty much to no effect) oppose it. I certainly don't see why it should make a big difference in the way anyone votes for president. I am beginning to wonder why abortion should even be a political issue.

If it were really about babies, there would be HUGE efforts put into research to stop the 80% (?) of pregnancies that end in spontaneous abortion.Instead of picking on a nun, why not bash all the MEN who spoke at the conventions and said nothing about holding MEN responsible for the pregnancies they beget? MEN should be held responsible for support of all their offspring though age 21. Never a peep about that from the "pro-life" movement. Those who congratulate themselves for being "pro-life" lose even more credibility when they fail to push for legislation designed to bring to justice all men and women whose pregnancies are aborted, deliberately or spontaneously. Try them. Convict them. Imprison them. If it were really about abortion, there would be real sex education and access to birth control. Instead, the "pro-life" people are opposed to those obvious solutions. Planned Parenthood is regarded as an enemy by "pro-life" hypocrites.Picking on a nun for not RUSHing to the barricades is . . . typical.

According to the Constitution, as interpreted by the 'Supreme Court (six justices of whom are currently Catholic, five of them -- a majority -- appointed by Republican presidents) women have a right to abort. That is the Constitution that politicians of both parties take an oath to uphold. I understand that the Republican devotion to the Constitution is so deep their platform cancels the first three words, but our mostly Catholic high court gives pro-choice politicians the high moral ground, if it comes to that; they are keeping their oath. Do the others swear with forked tongue?

Excuse me if I find protestation that Cardinal Dolan's speech was somehow more anti-abortion than Sister Simone's.It seems clear to me that Sr. Simone's utterances are being scrutinized more closely because the Vatican has raised questions about whether the nuns have done enough in the way of fighting abortion. The insidiousness of the question is that it's not clear what level of activity or vehemence in a speech would be "enough."At least Proska isn't griping about Sister's "plunging neckline" this time round, so I guess that's progress.

At the end of the day, a lot of this can become analogous to how many times "God" is mentioned in the party platforms. It's window dressing on both sides.

Agree. If the God-botherers really believed in God, they wouldn't use Her/Him as a bludgeon.

Both the Democrats and Republicans extoll American free speech, and then they vet the speeches at their nominating conventions. The conventions aren't conventions anymore, they're ads for the thinking of the majority of party politicians only. Sometimes I think Thomas Jefferson was the only American who really trusted free speech.

Can someone explain to me how pro-life Democrats have played a key role in the party in, say, the last 20 years? How do they play the role of anything but the abused wife who stands by her man?Also, for the record, I do not generally gripe about plunging necklines, except on men and nuns.

This whole election cycle is going to be a series of one "gotcha" after another. I am beginning to think: the winning party will win will be the one with the nastiest digs and innuendos that will influence non-thinking voters.The amount of money spent on these ads is reprehensible.

Pro-life people like myself are against artificial birth control because life is a good thing-we're made in God's image and God is good.Artificial birth control interrupts the goodness of life and can be detrimental to health.It upsets the balance of nature.Natural birth control-though it stops life from happening - does not upset the balance of nature but is part of it[it is natural to wish to space the timing of when to have children in a marriage].Artificial birth control is not a minor tweaking of nature but eradicates nature.Hence it renders any striving to live in harmony with God's laws "which are written in our hearts"-irrelevant.Artificial birth control is ungodly. The bludgeon is artificial birth control and abortion which perversely has been inverted to seem harmless if not good.I was pleased that Sister Simone used the phrase "part of my pro-life stance" and took it to mean she is also against abortion.

Sr. Simone was exploited by the DNC. I believe they knew they could count on her to address social justice Catholics who could be expected to tune in. Knowing her connection with LCWR, they could also count on her to say virtually nothing about abortion as the worst of social injustices.

Sister Simone gets a great round of applause at the Democratic convention after she has explicitly identified herself as pro-life, and it's not enough? She ought to be given a medal for possibly even slightly rehabilitating the term pro-life among those who are usually unsympathetic or hostile to anyone claiming that title. I'm really surprised that Sr. Simone not speaking about abortion, when she was invited to speak about something else (!), would be an issue. Peter's sincerity is palpable, but anyone who imagines this is a situation that requires nothing more than "speaking truth to power" has not had a discussion lately with people who don't share their views! The polarization that the abortion issue has undergone is so severe that, in my view, it's MORE important to build bridges and alliances than to parade credentials and sharpen distinctions. Of course, we've had lots of sharp distinctions already. Many tough words have been spoken by the Church's official representatives and self-appointed ones too. Look where it has gotten us.

Maybe someone should come up with a standard statement, kind of like the Miranda Warning, that Catholics could insert into their speeches so they wouldn't be subject to criticism about not being sufficiently anti-abortion. It could be on a little card that all Catholic speakers could carry with them. Alternatively, it could be written to rhyme so that upon hearing it a couple of times, you wouldn't forget it and could easily repeat it.

"... they could also count on her to say virtually nothing about abortion as the worst of social injustices."Maybe because it isn't? I don't see social injustice on a continuum so much as in a complicated cluster of causes and effects. Some social injustices cause abortions. Abortion creates other social injustices.In any case, let me ask our friends here, who think that affirming that one is "pro-life" is saying "virtually nothing," to suggest language that would have been more palatable.Peter Nixon suggests that wording such as, "this is part of my pro-life stance, which, in the words of Hubert Humphry, must include those in the 'dawn of life,' the twilight of life,' and the 'shadows of life.'"It strikes me that that would be wholly insufficient, since "dawn of life" could be construed to mean those just born, not just human life at the moment of conception. If Catholics in the political arena are to be kept "pure," it seems to me that they must distinguish when they believe life inviolate begins. Honestly, Sister amplifies and spreads the good word in the USCCB's letter of concern about the Ryan budget, and all people can do is bitch that the nuns are disobedient. On what planet do you people live?

I want to be more sympathetic to Peter's essay. I'm not sure how hard it would be to go off script, though we can't deny the affirmation of her pro-life "moment."On the other hand, I'm very sympathetic to what I hear from LCWR members who want to distance themselves from the political pro-life movement. "Alternatively, it could be written to rhyme ..."Indeed."What they seek to do is punish abortionists and try to make it more difficult for women to procure abortions."That would be completely counter to the GOP thinking in the 60's. The AMA lobbied, very successfully in hindsight, to eliminate the stigmatization of being an abortion provider. Mischief managed, now back to political manipulation of bishops. Good show.

Correction. Our well liked Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) didn't seek reelection. It is incorrect to say he lost when he didn't run. This was a personal decision, as a sister at our church and close friend of Mr. Stupak's told me the decision weighed on him quite heavily, as a tried to reconcile our faith with the details of the ACA. Specifically, the contraception, abortion issues now being protested. Unlike most politicians, who would have compromised their values and went on with an entrenched politican career, he chose not to. We need more like him and less like Pelosi and McConnell.

Mark Proska asked: "Can someone explain to me how pro-life Democrats have played a key role in the party in, say, the last 20 years? How do they play the role of anything but the abused wife who stands by her man?"I think the party outreach to pro-life Democrats and others with more centrist views after the Kerry debacle of 2004 was a significant part of Obama's success in 2008. And pro-life Democrats effectively delivered health care reform. So that is not inconsequential. As to the parting analogy, I think it's off target. For one thing, pro-life Democrats advocate for themselves in the party and speak out publicly.

Peter - bravo.

How about just wearing a badge a la supermarket employees: Ask me about abortion.

Abe, that would be a good strategy if the Church wanted anyone to seek dialogue on the issue. The Church is not seeking dialogue or entertaining a plurality of ideas. It is "no abortions ever for any reason." Democrats for Life, bless them, are trying hard to move the DNC to embrace a less draconian pro-choice stance, but if Sister's speech is viewed as falling short of the mark on abortion, I can't imagine how Dems for Life suggested changes to the party platform would be considered much better:http://www.democratsforlife.org/

Peter's point is puzzling to me. Is the point merely proclamation--prophetic indictment--for its own sake or is it trying to change minds and win hearts? It seems to me that Sr. Simone's strategy at the DNC has more of a chance of doing the latter than the strategy Peter seems to wish her to have adopted.More importantly, my suspicion is that the bishops have burned all their bridges to the Democrats and the Obama administration. If Obama is reelected (see Nate Silver), it will be the nuns that carry the message of a holistic approach to the sanctity of life. My own view is that Obamacare's comprehensive coverage will do more to reduce the abortion rate than eviscerating the social safety net will.

Almighty God, Father of Abraham, Grandfather of Isaac, and Great-Grandfather of Jacob, we thank thee for the knowledge that fertilized eggs are babiestheir lives more precious than any others, especially our own, until they are born. Preserve and protect them from baby killers and from any politician that would allow their murder, except in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother. Vouchsafe that we may first figure out the meaning and pronunciation of vouchsafe, and then that we may always remember 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 unless this would require the expenditure of tax dollars or interference with the free market. Remind us that since it must be treated from conception as a person, civil law must demand that the embryo be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being by all those except the pregnant mother herself, who is to be forgiven anything in advance, for she knows not what she does. Grant that she may be too distressed or ignorant of canon law to fulfill all the conditions for latae sententiae excommunication, but should it be incurred, may she see it for what it isa love tap from Holy Mother the Church calling her to reconciliation. Let us remember, Almighty God, that all these things are self-evident truths, and those who claim to disagree are either self-deluded or liars who secretly approve of infanticide. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, over and over, endlessly, again and again, ad infinitum, world without end even from alleged global warming. Amen.

This thread has been going on for more than a day and a half. Reviewing it, I jfind that I agree more with what the women have had to say on the subject than with the men, including myself. This does not surprise me. It shouldn't, considering the topic, surprise anyone else, guys.

Each abortion in the United States is the result of an individual womans decision.David,So what. Almost all killings are the result of an individual persons decision; that does not somehow make them moral. 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.

"the political pro-life movement."Todd --You point to an important distinction here. There are people who are pro-life (like myself) who refuse to join the "pro-life movement" that indulges in name calling such as "murderer" and "baby-killer". People like me think that this political pro-life movement has done much good, but it has also made any progress in changing minds all but impossible. You don't change a person's mind by calling him or her a murderer or a baby-killer, you just close their minds to your own arguments, as self-defeating an exercise as I can imagine.Not only that, it is a serious injustice to accuse someone of murder when the accused person does not realize that that there is in fact a baby involved. To commit murder you must *know* that you are killing a person. Without that understanding, you have killed but not murdered. Also, it has been the tradition of the Church until recently that early abortion is NOT the killing of a person, and, therefore, it is not the sin of murder. It follows that to accuse those who participate in it of murder is a serious sin, and this is the sort of highly unchristian behavior (calling non-murderers "murderer") that stops the cause of the unborn dead in its track. Of course, it also does no good to make fun of people (like me) who think that many abortions *are* in fact the killing of babies, though not necessarily murder. That is the issue as I and others see it, and we have given a great deal of *philoosphical effort* -- not theological -- to try to find the correct answers. To dismiss our thinking as naive or as just theological wishful thinking is just as foolish and unfair as calling all pro-choice people "murderers".In other words, the sheer name-calling on both sides is a very large part of the problem.

Bruce --You are judging the state of conscience of someone else who has shown mountains of evidence that she has acted in the interest of the weakest among us.Cut it out. You simply don't know what has gone on in the mind of that generous woman. Are you a mind reader??? "Judge not, that ye be not judged".

If it were really about babies, there would be HUGE efforts put into research to stop the 80% (?) of pregnancies that end in spontaneous abortion.Gerelyn,I'm 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 Republican Party has no interest in actually outlawing abortion. It is a powerful wedge issue, that's all.

Ann,I said I would not want to defend the actions I know of if they were mine. There is a difference. But obviously you feel free to judge me.

So what. Almost all killings are the result of an individual persons decision; that does not somehow make them moral.Bruce,There is no consensus that abortion is the killing of a human person. Even many people who call themselves pro-life justify abortion in cases of rape, incest, and threat to life or health of the mother. It is not a "social injustice" to take the life of an unborn child if it is not a person. I am not sure a case can even be made that legal abortion is a "social injustice" or even that aborting an unborn child perpetrates an injustice on the child itself. On top of that, I wonder whether abortion could actually be successfully prevented in the United States even if it were criminalized. And given how contentious an issue abortion is today, I shudder to imagine the consequences of pro-lifers managing to ram through significant anti-abortion measures.I remain to be convinced that prohibiting abortion would make the United States a better place to live. We can invent fantasies about what aborted babies will say to us in an afterlife, but they are just thatfantasies. If people seriously wanted to reduce the number of abortions significantly, it seems to me they would stop the war over legal abortion and do something to prevent unwanted pregnancies, encourage private adoptions, provide more help to women who wanted to keep their babies, and so on. But I don't think political parties are interested in reducing the number of abortions. They're interested in having abortion as an issue.

The problem with abortion is not that embryos die, but rather that they are killed with malice and aforethought by other humans.Bruce,If the problem is not that embryos die (and I agree), then this is not an issue of social justice. It's an issue about the moral lives of the people who perform and procure abortions. If they believe that they are doing something wrong, then they need to repent. If they don't 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. 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. It simply makes no logical sense. One's attitude toward abortion is really a matter of religious belief or nonbelief, and if everyone would respect everyone else's right to believe, we wouldn't have this extremely divisive battle.

"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."So did Cardinal Dolan.

Proteios1@ 10;06 mentions pro-life Bart Stupak [D.Mi] not running again for congress. When he 'stood up' to Obama for prolife I sent him a check for re-election. After two months he decided not to run and sent the original check back with a nice note. Name one other pol from either party who would do the same? Even Lincoln would have kept the check.

"Peters point is puzzling to me ... If Obama is reelected (see Nate Silver), it will be the nuns that carry the message of a holistic approach to the sanctity of life."Cathleen, it seems to me that Peter's point is precisely that one of the sisters' number had the platform and the audience to carry the message of a holistic approach - and she declined to do so. She didn't present a holistic pro-life message. She presented a very selective pro-life message, one that didn't challenge anyone in the hall. She spoke only partial truth to power. Perhaps it's true, as David G and some others have pointed out, that a more straightforward enunciation of Catholic pro-life views wouldn't have survived the Democratic Party's pre-speech vetting process. If that is the case, then that would seem to be important for us to know. Goodness knows, it wouldn't be the first time the Democratic Party has refused a convention speaking slot to a Catholic with a pro-life message.

Jim Pauwels,How many Catholic speakers at the Republican National Convention argued against the American love affair with guns or argued for better treatment of illegal immigrants or poor people? National political conventions are not occasions for inviting religious people to stand up and critique the party in the convention hall. The logical outcome of doing what you seem to want is for the Democratic Party to give the Republicans equal time at their convention and the Republicans to give equal time to the Democrats. The Democratic Party supports abortion. The Republican party claims to oppose it. It makes no more sense for the Democrats to schedule pro-life speakers as it does for the Republicans to schedule pro-abortion speakers. The Catholic Church has no shortage of venues to make anti-abortion speeches. It doesn't need the Democratic Party to grant it speaking time at the convention.

1) If they dont believe they are doing something wrong, then abortion is no problem for them.2) It is not as if society needs the babies that are aborted.3) Ones attitude toward abortion is really a matter of religious belief or nonbeliefDavid,Your statements have no basis in fact. 1) 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.2) You have absolutely no basis for this conclusion. 3) 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.

Could someone identify what were any substantial pro-life gains that might have occurred when the Republicans controlled the White and both houses of Congress a few years ago? (during the George W. Bush administration).Putting aside the rhetoric, what have the Republicans actually done that is more pro-life than the Democrats?

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.

"This is the perfect example of 'talking at' people."Not to belabor the point butI take Mr. Nixon's point to be that Sister was uniquely positioned, based on her pedigree and natural demeanor, to have the audience feel that she was talking to them, not at them. She didn't take the opportunity to move the Democratic party in a pro-life direction. That's a shame.

Thanks for your response, Bruce. Now I see better what you wanted. And Mark, thanks too for your comments about her pedigree and natural demeanor, which do project a non-hostile image.

We are in serious danger of becoming irrelevant if all we have to say is we are opposed to abortion. We must address the causes that lead people to consider abortion, the huge lack of support for families, for pregnant and nursing women, for women's medical needs and those of their children. To measure ourselves on this single issue as republican or democrat would make even Jesus weep.

For the most part, the "pro-life" movement is an anti-abortion movement. Despite Peter saying it's false that "most" pro-life Catholics are anti-poor the fact is that many anti-abortion Republicans are as evidenced by their allergy to social welfare programs and their self-serving proclamations that such programs just "encourage dependency." Dependency encouraged before birth, discouraged for Moms trying to feed their kids. Kudos to Sr. Simone, truly a pro-lifer.

Sister was uniquely positioned . . . Mark Proska,Kind of like Pope Pius XII?

SR.SIMONE DID A GREAT JOB ON RYAN'S BUDGET. SHE ONLY HAD 7 MINUTES TO TALK.YOU EXPECT HER TO COVER THE WHOLE CATHOLIC MANTRA? NOT FAIR. GIVE SISTER CREDIT,SHE DOES NOT LET THE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVE VATICAN PLAN OUT HER CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF FREE SPEACH. AMERICA WOULD BE BETTER OFF LISTENING TO THE SISTER. AT LEAST SHE IS NOT SELLING HERSELF TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER. GOOD JOB SISTER,GOOD JOB. LONG LIVE NUNS ON THE BUS TOUR. CATHOLICS SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME LISTENING TO SISTER.

David Nickol--I do not think it is fair to Sister Campbell to hold her to the standard set by Blessed Pius XII.

"For the most part, the pro-life movement is an anti-abortion movement."That is a very good observation. It is definitely true that among people not involved in the pro-life movement that is the perception. Notwithstanding that ignorance however, we have five notches under our belt over the past five years in repealing state death penalties, the latest being this April to which the bishops, Conference and Mobilizing Network deserve great credit.

Moms trying to feed their kidsI find it very disheartening that somehow the pro-life community is perceived as only having 'allergy to social welfare programs'. Frankly, I do have an allergy to social welfare programs as a way for Mom's to feed their kids. But that allergy is because these 'social welfare programs' seem designed to create an Ayn Randian mom at the expense and replacement of the father. I want society to hold both the father and mother responsible for the upbringing of their children. Stay together and raise your progeny - that should be our fundamental message.

The fact that Dem are so staunchly pro-choice makes voting easier for me allows me to vote the party rather than the man (or woman) straight Republican since 1980!

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