Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Emeritus of Corpus Christi Makes Sweeping Pro-Life Appeal

Christian Newswire is reporting on the emeritus bishop of Corpus Christi's radio ad, the text of which says:

This is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, reminding all Catholics that they must vote in this election with an informed conscience. A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate.

I am very sorry to have to say that Bishop Gracida has done the Pro-Life cause a grave disservice. Bishop Gracida's statement is false in fact, and an excellent example of the non sequitur, and probably stems from an improper application of the principles of Catholic moral reasoning. It is simply not impossible that a Catholic, voting with an informed conscience, should, according to his rightly-formed conscience, decide to vote for Obama. I would strongly disagree with that Catholic's decision, and have arguments to hand in order to engage that Catholic.

It seems that the quest for "moral clarity" has led many well-intentioned and intelligent Christians in prominent positions within the Church and within civil society to forget that prudential reasoning is not a binary science.

The cause of life is not well served when bishops, and retired bishops no less, presume to impose their own judgments on the dictates of the consciences of the faithful - and this is especuially the case when the bishops' judgments are the right ones.

A faithful Catholic, in order to be such, must believe his bishop when his bishop tells him that Holy Mother Church has always taught that reason shows all human life to be created in the image and likeness of God, and that the right to life inheres in every human person from the moment of conception, and that the right to life may not be abridged, and must be protected inviolate in all innocent persons until natural death.

No bishop has power to bind the faithful to a certain course of action - a fortiori no bishop without a flock to shepherd, and Bishop Gracida's pretense of binding Catholics in conscience - to the extent that this is Bishop Gracida's intention- is entirely vacuous and without effect.

It may be that Bishop Gracida was aware that he was merely giving public expression to his private opinion about a matter interesting the common weal. If so, his discretion is doubtful.

The very best statements from bishops have been that of Edward CARD. Egan of New York, and that drafted by Justin CARD. Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport , in response to the mendacious idiocy of Rep. Pelosi. I reproduce them here for persual:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

This is From Cardinal Egan:


Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan

Archbishop of New York

August 26, 2008

Compare the calm didactic tone of the first statement and the Spartan power and clarity of Cardinal Egan's polemical prose, with the silly pseudo-syllogistic construction of bishop Gracida, and know the disservice Bishop Gracida has done the cause of life in America, through his failure to learn from the example of his truly gifted and inspired brothers in the Episcopacy, and, failing that, next failing to keep his mouth shut.

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