L'Osservatore Romano Editor: Obama Not "Pro-Abortion"

William Saletan has a nuanced article on Slate about what Obama's visit to Notre Dame, the source of seemingly unending controversy.  Here's Saletan:


"Smart pro-lifers understand the multidimensionality of public opinion. That's why, in his introduction of Obama, Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, urged fellow pro-lifers to "appeal to ethical principles that might be persuasive to others." Obama understands it, too: He challenged fellow pro-choicers to "open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do." Understanding other perspectives isn't just a courtesy. It's a strategy."

Also, for much of this week I've been critiqued in the conservative blogosphere, sometimes in a friendly, sometimes in a not-so-friendly, way for a few things I said during an appearance on CNN covering President Obama's visit to ND.  (The liberal blogosphere, not surprisingly, had an entirely different view.)  Frankly, I wished I had said some things differently about the pro-life movement.  (I said, "Unfortunately, for a lot of people in the pro-life movement, life begins at conception but seems to end there."  Better to have said that there is a danger if we reduce life issues to one issue, or if the church gives the impression of doing so, rather than to have accused a "lot" of pro-life advocates of actually believing that.  But such is live television.)  The other issue of the way we interact with one another in the Catholic blogosphere I'll leave for another post.  Or book.

Still, I stand by the other statement that won me some ire, which is that very few people, including Obama, could actually be "pro-abortion," in that they want more and more and more abortions in this country.  Some of my friends in the pro-life movement say that the term "pro-abortion" relates more to the legislative policies one favors.  I was using it more to refer to the interiority of a person's desires: that is, who could want more abortions?  Especially someone who said, as Obama did at Notre Dame, that he wants to "reduce" the number of abortions, and who mapped out a plan for doing so. 

To my surprise, then, came this quote from the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, just this morning: "Obama not pro-abortion" 

Original interview here in Italiano.

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9 years ago
It is difficult for the pro-life movement to insist on what being "pro-abortion" is when they don't effectively define what being "pro-life" is either.  It seems at times that the prime requisite for considering oneself 100% pro-life is membership in the Republican Party.  As long as people are justified in this impression, the Bishops cannot insist that this issue comes before all others.  To say such a thing, definition is needed on the essentials of the pro-life agenda.  As long as Republicans who are essentially "pro-choice" because they do not believe in an abortion ban are included as pro-lifers while Democrats who believe in exactly the same thing are not, there can be no moral requirement to support pro-life candidates. I would agree that abortion is the most important issue, not because I think overturning Roe is essential (that would be both impossible and wrong headed) but because fighting abortion by enacting a gauranteed income and removing the responsiblity for education from parents are vital.  There is not an issue which does not have implications for abortion, from the economic empowerment of workers to the emancipation of youth.
9 years ago
I've read all the refutations re: supporting the right vs. the act and I agree.  Unfortunately others still do not see it.  So, rather than add to the abstract, philosophical or legal approach, let me take the empirical, existential and intuitive route and perhaps that will help, if you oblige me. Picture this.  A pick-up truck pulls over and guy calls out to you, "Hey we got a live one here.  We're going to woods and castrate this "African-American"  (They use a word that sounds like near.)  You say, "Y'all go on without me."  They drive off and you continue working on that peach cobbler and sweet iced tea.  You don't call 911 because while you personally do not "support the actual doing of it" you "support the right , as distinct from the doing, because of your view of the proper role of government authority vs. individual autonomy." That night, a black body was found dangling from a tree.  I'd say you were just as guilty as the boys who did it.  Supporting their "right" to do that and doing nothing to stop it, is practically supporting it.
9 years ago
Ricky: I don't see how to conform to "love your neighbor" and ignore a genuine community value. Is it true that this makes me responsible for the community value? I think not.  As for God's values - well, I guess that I consider the statements about the "greatest commandments" in Matt 22:36-39 to be quite clear.
9 years ago
Obama is not pro-abortion, you say? If that's the case, why he has he lifted the ban on UNFPA and lavished it with tens of millions of dollars worth of funding in one financial year? You will recall that UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund which is dedicated to enforcing population-control (the clue's in the name) throughout the globe by any means necessary, and I use those words advisedly, was, in the 1990s * Closely involved in the Fujimori regime's program of the forcible sterilisation of hundreds of thousands of native Peruvian women And is now *Closely involved in and a cheerleader of the Chinese government's barbaric one-child policy. In 2001 the then executive director of UNFPA praised China's "notable achievements" in population-control, saying: "China, having adopted practical measures [these include aborting foetuses up to 9 months gestation - RM] in accordance with her current situation, has scored remarkable achievements in population control." Meanwhile, blind Chinese human-rights activist, Chen Guancheng who in 2006 was planning to take legal action against the Chinese government for human rights abuses perpetrated as part of its one-child policy when he was arrested, beaten up and subjected to kangaroo court proceedings before being jailed recently marked his 1000th day in prison. None of this is in any way secret. The activities of UNFPA and the Chinese government are a matter of record. But instead of informative blog posts about genuine heroes like Chen, we get obsequious posts seriously disputing the fact that America's chief executive, a man who funds already croesus-rich disgusting human-rights busting population-control agencies, is pro-abortion.
9 years ago
While we often consider the "love thy neighbor as thyself part," I do not think people understand what love is.  If we follow Aristotle's ethics, we know that the highest form of love is desiring the greatest good for the one loved.  Now as Catholics we know that the greatest good is Heaven, thus St. Paul demands charity in all things, even in rebuking.   But in regards to the two greatest commandments, we always focus on the second in a sentimental "tolerating" way, but forget that the first commandment demands we love God first and foremost, which automatically means doing the will of God: "Blessed is he that hears the word of God and keeps it" and "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in Heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother." In this debate about pro-life and pro-abortion, God's rights and laws come first, especially for Catholics, who should know better.  But it is a sad thing that so many Catholics are ignorant of their faith and their responsibilities before God.  I refer those who want a clearer understanding of Catholic ethics on this abortion topic, to an old-school Jesuit Fr. Charles Coppens, Moral Principles and Medical Practice, The Basis of Medical Juris Prudence. 
8 years 12 months ago
TonyD wrote :"Is it true that this makes me responsible for the community value?" If you meant, tolerating abortion as the "community value", I think the omission to oppose evil makes one complicit in it.  "Silence is consent." If you meant abortion is a community value because it alleviates the mother of a burden and prevents the child from having an sub-human existence, then the end does not justify the means.  The child is not a tumor but a person with inalienable rights.
8 years 12 months ago
Red Maria, tens of millions of dollars hardly pay for the staff salaries of UNPA, if that.  Likely there was a question of dues in arrears after 8 years of non-payment.  There will hardly be a third world abortion boom funded by the US contribution. Ricky, if the economic policies I suggest are enacted, the rednecks wouldn't be out hunting for a scapegoat for their own problems.  Irregardless, your analogy does not hold water.  Its not about tolerating either lynching or abortion.  There are correct ways to fight both.  While in the face of the actual lynching I would hope to have the necessary armaments to shoot the lyncher between the eyes, barring that calling the cops is probably more appropriate, although shooting the SOB would be legal considering he is in the act of committing a felony.  Abortion is not a felony - and it never has been.  By your analogy, instead of shooting the lyncher, I would call the local sherrif who would issue him a ticket for a fine - that being the penalty for abortion before Roe (or didn't you know that). I (and the President) are all for restricting abortion.  However, doing it by overturning Roe would also likely overturn anti-lynching law, as overturning Roe on jurisdictional grounds as Scalia and the National Right to Life Committee favor, would gut 14th Amendment Law.  The preferred way is to have Congress grant rights to the fetus at some stage in pregnancy.  What stage that is would be, as Scalia would favor, be a function of the political process. By taking extreme positions and making extreme arguments not based on law as it is, the movement is doing more to keep the problem alive than solve it.
8 years 12 months ago
Michael Bindner, you may well be right on the first point, since I have no doubt that those who work for such a disgraceful organisation as UNFPA are paid a very hefty wack to do their jobs depriving poor non-white people of their human rights. The notion that there are arrears to be paid to UNFPA is laughable, frankly. UNFPA is not a government creditor, it provides no vital or necessary services and neither the USA nor any other government is bound to finance it. In fact, subsidising UNFPA necessarily diverts funds away from international development projects. To say flippantly that ''there will hardly be a third-world abortion boom'' thanks to enormous contributions of the US under Barak Obama betrays a fundamental ignorance of UNFPA's current role and appalling record. UNFPA is working right now with the Chinese government on its barbaric one-child policy; a policy UNFPA has consistently championed in the public square. This policy involves the forcible sterilisation of countless millions of Chinese women, to say nothing of forced abortions up to 9 months gestation. It has also worked with the Vietnamese government on enforcing its two-child policy. As late as the 1990s UNFPA worked with the Fujimori regime implementing its forced sterilisation campaign against hundreds of thousands of native Peruvian women. The fact of the matter is, none of this would not be possible without the generous subsidies it receives from wealthy western governments, most notably the USA. We know this is the case because UNFPA says so. When funding is withdrawn from UNFPA on account of the staggering number of human rights violations it is involved in, it makes a terrible fuss and splurges phenomenal sums on slick PR campaigns. Population-control campaigns would be unthinkable in the West for three reasons: one, below-replacement birth rates already pose terrific problems for policy makers and politicians; two, they'd be likely to be illegal, contravening various pieces of civil liberties and human rights legislation; three long-standing cultures of individual liberty would mean that people simply wouldn't wear it. Nonetheless Western governments, including Obama's administration fund such human rights-violating policies in developing countries. This is absolutely disgraceful. Funding UNFPA now is on a par with funding apartheid South Africa in the past. Any government which does so is morally complicit in its human rights violations.
9 years ago
L'Osservatore Romano does not speak for the Pope: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=N2I5MGM2NGY1ZDA0YTk5OWZhNGM2NTlmNWE4YzQ0ZTc=
9 years ago
I agree with Fr. Martin completely. After all, ''love your neighbor'' is one of the two great commandments - it requires that we consider the values of others and the values of our community. Trying to ''force'' abortion laws on communities with differing values is a worse ''intrinsic evil'' than abortion. (I am pro-life. I know that life begins at conception.)
9 years ago
Nor doth the National Review with all of its works and pomps.
9 years ago
Patrick, you say The L'OR does not speak for the Pope. I say 70 bishops just found out that they don't either.


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