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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?

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