Pope Francis’s pro-life values probably don’t match your political categories. Here’s why.

Pope Francis greets a sick child near the Talitha Qum homeless shelter in Cartagena, Colombia, on Sept. 10, 2017. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Though many have tried to paint Francis as a “liberal” pope—not least because of his deep embrace of the consistent ethic of life—in his 2017 homily for the feast of Pentecost, he explicitly calls out commitments to either liberal or conservative Christianity as problematic. When the pope visited the United States, he declared that we must “confront every form of polarization which would divide [us] into these two camps.” Although the media often distort his record, Francis’ actual positions follow what I call the “consistent life ethic” (hereafter C.L.E.), as do those of his predecessors, church tradition and the Gospel.

While Pope Francis has given special consideration to what some may consider liberal (to use the problematic binary) life issues, like protecting God’s creation and welcoming undocumented immigrants and refugees, he has also spoken up strongly and clearly for the more traditional prolife issues. In short, he is quite solidly within the tradition of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But at the same time, his pontificate represents the leading edge of this tradition, and he uses new lenses and metaphors to speak to a new generation. In what follows I highlight what are, in my view, his two most significant contributions to the C.L.E—first, a negative: resisting the throwaway culture; second, a positive: promoting a culture of encounter.

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Human beings have inherent, irreducible value, but when a throwaway culture finds them inconvenient, it deems them “inefficient” or “burdensome”; and they are ignored, rejected or even disposed of.

Resisting Throwaway Culture

Pope Francis uses “throwaway culture” to name the opposite of what the C.L.E. seeks to affirm. This culture fosters “a mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable. This way of thinking has room only for a select few, while it discards all those who are unproductive.” Human beings have inherent, irreducible value, but when a throwaway culture finds them inconvenient, it deems them “inefficient” or “burdensome”; and they are ignored, rejected or even disposed of. In reducing the person to a mere product in a marketplace—one that can be used and then thrown away—our culture makes what philosophers call a category mistake. Persons are ends in themselves, with inherent and irreducible value, and must never be put into the category of things that can be merely discarded as so much trash.

Pope Francis resists a throwaway culture that employs violent and (often) state-sponsored practices like war, genocide, terrorism and the death penalty. But he also argues that this same violent culture includes practices like abortion (which discards a child as inconvenient) and euthanasia (which treats the elderly like “baggage” to be discarded).

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New City Press

But the C.L.E. is concerned not only with explicit violence, like killing, but also violence within the structure of our societies. In “Amoris Laetitia,” Francis echoes St. John Paul II that the dignity of the person “has an inherent social dimension.” That is, respecting life cannot be about simply resisting the aggressive violence of throwaway culture but also confronting the violence within its social structures. Francis insists that the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” clearly applies to our culture’s “economy of exclusion.”

The exclusion with which Francis is concerned need not be conscious exploitation and oppression. It can be unconscious practices that lead to certain people becoming “outcasts” or “leftovers.” The pope uses particularly harsh language in condemning theories of economic growth that ignore or discard human beings if they are deemed a net drag on such growth: the homeless person who dies of exposure, the child without adequate health care who dies of an easily treatable disease, island-dwelling peoples threatened by climate change. What Francis calls “a globalization of indifference” considers such people as mere afterthoughts.

Respecting life cannot be about simply resisting the aggressive violence of throwaway culture but also confronting the violence within its social structures.

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A primary value in throwaway culture is maintaining a consumerist lifestyle; but to cease caring about who is being discarded, most of us must find a way to no longer acknowledge their inherent dignity. Rehumanize International, a C.L.E. activist group, has researched how this works (both historically and today) with different populations, including racial minorities, the elderly and disabled, prenatal children, immigrants and refugees, enemy combatants and the incarcerated. Patterns develop whereby these populations have been or are named as nonpersons, subhumans, defective humans, parasites and objects, things or products.

Although technology has helped connect those who wish to be connected, it has also helped facilitate the detachment by which the throwaway culture can flourish. For instance, I can now press two buttons on my smartphone and hours later a product will arrive at my door. I have no idea who procured the materials, who assembled the product, who shipped the product, nor do I know who delivered it. I do not now how much profit the corporation that sold me the product is making. I do not know if the people involved in bringing the product to me were paid a wage fair in their social circumstances. I do not know the effect that this product’s manufacture has had on their local economies. I have little to no idea about the ecological impact associated with making this product. In short, consumer culture has detached us so totally from encounter and connection that—barring some unusual circumstance—we are not inclined to think about how we are contributing to a culture in which people are used and thrown away.

Critiquing throwaway culture, Francis insists, also means critiquing our culture’s focus on autonomy, privacy and moral relativism. In the face of a throwaway culture’s violence and injustice, it is simply not appropriate that we retreat into our private spaces and “live and let live.” When autonomy becomes our primary value, Pope Francis says that we succumb to “blind forces” of “self-interest” and “violence.” In the spaces abandoned by our appeals to autonomy, privacy and moral relativism, throwaway culture uses and discards the most vulnerable with impunity.

Although technology has helped connect those who wish to be connected, it has also helped facilitate the detachment by which the throwaway culture can flourish.

Promoting a Culture of Encounter

Although Pope Francis wishes that we resist throwaway culture, he is well aware that merely offering the negative message “Don’t do this” is not enough. Admonitions may convict us of our complicit role in violence and injustice and perhaps push us to seek alternatives to our current practices, but we also need a new imagination or framework for doing things differently. Francis’ positive message, the antidote to throwaway culture, is what he calls a “culture of encounter.”

Well before Francis, the C.L.E. focused on the most vulnerable by reflecting the “sheep and goats” parable in Matthew 25. Jesus insists that we have a fundamental duty to encounter him in the least among us. Every supporter of the C.L.E. is called to give particular care to those without power on the margins—to those who find it difficult or impossible to speak up on their own behalf. We owe special concern for the least among us, Francis says, “no matter how troublesome or inconvenient they may be.”

Such concern, however, transcends enacting laws or donating money. While these are good and often morally essential things to do, Pope Francis summons us to go beyond them, get our hands dirty and move out of our safe spaces to the peripheries, where we can encounter the excluded and marginalized.

Contemporary consumer culture pushes us to have our experiences mediated “by screens and systems that can be turned on and off on command,” but the culture of encounter to which Francis calls us insists on a “face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction.”

The culture of encounter to which Francis calls us insists on a “face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction.”

In this regard the pope—like Christ himself—seems to focus particularly on children, a focus at the core of the C.L.E. Today’s most vulnerable children, the pope says, are found hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants. Let us allow ourselves to be challenged, he says, by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satisfies their hunger, by those who do have not toys in their hands but rather weapons: victims of war, abortion and poverty.

Such encounters are necessary not only for Christians, who are called to find Jesus in these relationships and be evangelized by them, but for anyone who wants to avoid the trap of deciding in advance what people need before getting to know and love them. The wealthy and privileged often determine the problems and solutions without having a single conversation with those who need the help. Not only does this disrespect the very people we are called to prioritize and honor, but its ignorant posture often gets the proposed solutions tragically wrong.

Pope Francis also insists that we work to build a culture of encounter even if there are “no tangible and immediate benefits.” Genuine encounter requires a posture of hospitality—and such encounters will be understood as good and fitting even if there seems to be no utilitarian reason for engaging. It is an inherently good thing that people, previously strangers, encounter each other in the setting of hospitality. He insisted, for instance, that Catholic parishes house 500,000 refugees displaced by conflicts with ISIS. And who can argue with him? While it is possible that doing so involves some danger, it is shameful that countries that waged the wars that allowed ISIS to come about have not shown hospitality to the people those wars have displaced.

Significantly, taking the side of the vulnerable, as Pope Francis suggests, is not mere pacifism. Surely, if an unjust aggressor threatens the marginalized, deadly violence may be necessary to protect them. Though he does not think that individual nations should decide when such violence may be required (especially given the long history of cloaking wars of conquest under the mantle of protecting the vulnerable) he did give what some have called a “cautious yellow light” to airstrikes against ISIS. Such violence, surely, should be a last resort and must achieve a good greater than the harm that is caused—but Pope Francis does envision a C.L.E. that leaves room for rare cases in which deadly violence is necessary to defend the vulnerable.

It may be easy to judge and dismiss those we are called to encounter and support and who, therefore, are difficult to love. But this is often the reason they find themselves on the margins of our culture. This is especially important in public discourse within today’s culture. A culture of encounter, characterized by mercy for those we are tempted to judge, means being in intellectual solidarity with those who hold different opinions than we do. It means listening first, presuming goodwill and tolerating views that we find uncomfortable.

Francis provided an example of this in his opening of the controversial Synod of Bishops on the family on Oct. 3, 2015. Having heard through the grapevine that some might be afraid to speak up against the pope’s point of view, he urged his fellow bishops to offer their disagreements with him and others in honest and direct ways but always with “humility” and an “open heart.” This stands in marked contrast to much public discourse. Far too often, students and others demand “safe spaces” and that those with different points of view be marginalized. But a commitment to encounter those on the margins in the spirit of mercy means resisting these understandable impulses and, like Pope Francis, welcoming and engaging those with different points of view.

In “Laudato Si’,” Francis highlights the fact that nonhuman creation belongs not to us but to God. Creation has an intrinsic value independent of human beings.

Pope Francis’ culture of encounter also recognizes the mutuality of all creation. In “Laudato Si’,” Francis highlights the fact that nonhuman creation belongs not to us but to God. Creation has an intrinsic value independent of human beings. In this remarkable passage, the pope connects the sufferings of human beings to the sufferings of God’s other creatures:

Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power.

Francis takes nonhuman suffering so seriously that he believes even Jesus’ mother makes it a priority. And who—if not deadened to their cries and detached from their dignity—can not be moved by the sufferings of elephants poached for their ivory or pigs made to live most of their lives in gestation crates? They are subject to terrible violence, the result of a consumerist culture that cannot think of them except as things to be bought and sold. Especially those in urban or suburban cultures, who are almost totally removed from the tangible reality of God’s creation, struggle to establish a genuine culture of encounter between human and vulnerable nonhuman animals. But if we take the mutuality of all creation seriously, we need to face the hard truths about our relationships with other animals.

Finally, a culture of encounter asks Christians, in particular, to resist the temptation to be ruled by right-versus-left arguments over the policies of nation-states. An undue focus on such arguments impedes authentic participation in the culture of encounter to which Pope Francis calls us. Participating in this binary political culture requires us to define ourselves by our opposition to the political “other.” Furthermore, as Pope Francis says in “The Joy of the Gospel”:

In her dialogue with the State and with society, the Church does not have solutions for every particular issue. Together with the various sectors of society, she supports those programs which best respond to the dignity of each person and the common good. In doing this, she proposes in a clear way the fundamental values of human life and convictions which can then find expression in political activity.

For those who disagree (at least for the moment) on politics and policy, a focus on value and convictions can provide common ground and the basis for fruitful encounters that may, down the road, lead to a different outcome.

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JR Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

Why should pro life be political if one is a Catholic?

However, the term "throw away culture" is loaded with politics and economics and has nothing to do with being pro life or not. To say so is to distort reality. This concept is incredibly misused in this essay. The author should ask how were people treated for all of human history and how one economic system changed that and in so doing so made even the poorest person in the world potentially have a positive future.

JR Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

can then find expression in political activity

For over 1500 years the Church supported a political/economic system that oppressed 98+% of the people and led them to lead meaningless lives on earth. To say that the Church is seeking what's best for people when it enters the political arena was absurd then as it is now. The Church's mission is not politics but morality for salvation.

Michael Bindner
4 months 2 weeks ago

Actually, it us more about authority than morality or charity. Sounds like politics to me.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

And it is definitely politics and that is why America should be considering taxing religions that push their moral beliefs on secular society. It is one thing to say abortion is morally wrong and quite another to state that means it is ok to make laws that all women who are pregnant must be forced to gestate the unborn against their will and desire. It is morally wrong not to give your organs after you die to those whose lives could be saved by them yet no one is up in arms about demanding laws to force organ donation, even after the donor has died. That is because white rich men will never make laws that put their body parts under the legal control of government or anyone but themselves. Women should not do this either.

Cam Rathborne
4 months 2 weeks ago

I would challenge the idea that we live in a secular society. It has never been the case

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

You know, that is tough to argue against given the ground we have allowed religion to take, to affect our laws, in our "free" country.

Robert Klahn
4 months 1 week ago

If your politics leads to suffering for others, then your salvation is at risk. the church must act to lead it's people to work for the good of the poor and suffering for the sake of their salvation.

JR Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

For those who disagree (at least for the moment) on politics and policy, a focus on value and convictions can provide common ground and the basis for fruitful encounters

Only thing in this article that may be useful but it too is vague. What are the values and convictions? Not stated. I will state what my Catholic education taught me. Salvation is paramount. My secular education taught me freedom is necessary for the world to get better.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

It is such a shame that our church teaches that you can't find salvation and freedom in the same church. This is a false and sad belief.

JR Cosgrove
4 months 2 weeks ago

One, salvation, is a religious belief and the main part of Catholic doctrine. Freedom has little to do with doctrine. It is oriented to this world. Suppressing it is an example of where the Church has gone astray by being political. They did not heed the words of Christ about Caesar. Desiring freedom is part of the natural law that was suppressed around the world till the 17th century and emerged in a couple limited places. The first almost totally free government was Pennsylvania in 1680’s.

Robert Klahn
4 months 1 week ago

Politics and economics mean very little if they do not involve morality. The have everything to do with how you express any supposedly pro-life beliefs. If your economics or politics act to promote abortion then you are not pro-life. Note, no where did I say legalize abortion, I said promote it. Causing the poor to suffer promotes abortion. Acts that encourage more of something promote that thing, not just speech. Making opioids more easily available promotes their use without saying a word. Making health care less available or more expensive promotes abortion, with absolute silence on the subject.

When I see that one economic system that changed the treatment of even the poorest person I'll discuss it. The private, for profit system was the system in effect throughout the world for pretty much all of human history, and very few did all that well under it. It was more democracy that brought about the improvement.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

The Pope's views can be explained by the fact that he's a conservative male Catholic from Argentina. He has seen the devastation of poverty and environmental exploitation up close and so he cares about the poor and about the environment. But he is also a sexist who doesn't want women to be equals in the church, and someone who has deemed same sex marriage the work of the devil. I think it could be said that he does "throw away" women and gay people.

Jay Zamberlin
4 months 2 weeks ago

Sure, Crystal, once more, truth is not the job of the Pope, he simply has to put on his male, Latino, Catholic sexist suit and open his mouth, what comes out will be, of necessity, what every other male Catholic Latino sexist from Argentina would say. In the case of THIS pope, sadly, you might be correct, though probably not for some of the reasoning you've attached. He lines up with the secularist when he can, that is for sure, and when he absolutely MUST be Catholic, he does. Sexism, believe it or not, is NOT the reason there are no women priests. But thanks for your very "today's morality according to the world" analysis. God forbid the Church would be out of step with the secular progressives......that just should not be.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

There's no scriptural reason why women shouldn't be priests - that was the finding of the Pontifical Biblical Commission of 1976. And there's certainly no scriptural reason for Francis to have continually talked down to women since he's been pope.

Jay Zamberlin
4 months 2 weeks ago

OK? Who is the priestess in the Old, or New Testament? We do, of course, have important female figures in the Church, from the beginning till now, but no priests. Priest is not a CEO, or presider or minister, though he performs those roles sometimes, the priest is the offerer of sacrifice, That seems to be not part of most of today's Catholics' understanding. Women have always been restricted from the altar of sacrifice, the "Holy of Holies." Again, God's own reasons, not mine, nor the Pope's nor some man's opinion about any of that.

Priesthood was not only restricted to males, it was restricted to the Tribe of Levi. So, God does, for His own purposes/reasons, discriminate, Take it up with Him.

Christ Himself is the Great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek.. He could have ordained Mary, somehow, chose not to. It was just not in the plan, then, nor now.

You cite a one time, divided commission's finding that makes no positive declaration, just a passive, negative one: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate."

The Church has also an authoritative foundation, besides Scripture, and that is Sacred Tradition. We have declarations by many Popes on the subject. Definitively. Called an impossibility by way of the very definition of the priesthood, it's essential maleness.

Every church moving toward women "priestesses" is on the way down, bailing water as they sink. Those same Churches have gay "married" and Lesbian Bishops. Good luck on "selling" those ideas. Those ideas absolutely contradict Scripture, and they seem to flow together, if not in theory, exactly, certainly in practice. I don't think that is quite accidental. Of course, this is "America" and for you, none of that might bother you, but I won't assume that.

The BVM has visited Catholics, many times, and has never raised a single objection to the "sexist" status quo. Don't you find that, at the very least, troubling, according to your "theory."

You and that one time commission, IMHO, are standing on theological quicksand.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

Jesus chose no one to be a priest and there were no priests in the early Christian church, male or female.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

Sexism is the only reason we do not ordain women to priesthood and ordain them bishops. There literally is no other reason.

This is why we are forbidden to discuss the topic. If our hierarchy could justify their argument they would be willing to debate the issue constantly.
Instead this pope and our hierarchy forbid discussion on women's same ordination, knowing they are not able to justify this stand anywhere in scripture. They also know the Gospels teach and command against sexism, as Jesus himself demands all his followers treat all people the same as self, and that ignoring this command is a grave sin. So the hierarchy refuses to debate the subject with women, hoping God will not punish them because they can claim that they never discussed the subject. Good Luck Guys! God is no fool and you will pay a price in this world or the next for unrepentant sin and oppression.

Jewish priests were born priests and not ordained and there is no law in Leviticus or the OT keeping women from Jewish Priesthood. So there are no ordained male or female priests, or ordained male or female priestesses in Judeo-Christian beliefs or scriptures. There were both male and female presbyters and both presided over Holy Eucharist in the early church and these were the equivalent to what the earliest church, at the time of the apostles, had as priests and none of them were ordained.

"The exclusion with which Francis is concerned need not be conscious exploitation and oppression. It can be unconscious practices that lead to certain people becoming “outcasts” or “leftovers.”

This pope really needs to apply his beliefs to his treatment of all women and especially those who are equally called to ordained priesthood just like him. Instead he refused to let women vote at synods, even on the subjects of "The Family and on Youth" , no less, but allows laymen votes.

We need to demand he stop throwing women away as useless and maybe they will care at some point what he thinks. Until then - Nope - we women are done listening and are just waiting for the pope who will treat women as human and the same as men.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

How true Crystal - And Pope Francis is throwing away the unborn too, as his continent has the highest abortion rates and maternal death rates, and he is aware of this, and the laws which cause these high rates are based on Pro-Life pressure, and yet still he does not change his stand.

This means our Pope would rather see more of the unborn die (double the rate of the U.S.) if it means he can keep women from having a legal and safe choice of abortion, and keep them from quality birth control, so women will need abortion less, allowing women to get themselves educated, and out of poverty, and out from under the control of men.

Ray Dubuque
4 months 2 weeks ago

Very true, Nora, and so well stated - in contrast to your critic, Reyana - !

Reyanna Rice
4 months 2 weeks ago

That is utter nonsense.

Alan Johnstone
4 months 2 weeks ago

Myopia is a fine thing.

Human beings differ in various ways as to how they prefer things to be: tidy or messy - organised or spontaneous - feeling or rational and so forth. As to whether these differences arise by nature or nurture is beside the point, the inclinations are deep rooted and persistent.

One spectrum of preference divergence is being politicised and the distinctions are ignored in this sort of discussion.

On the average, the divide is about 60/40 % to more highly value the familiar, the tried and tested, the way it has always been or to prefer novelty, experimentation, change.

These are preferences or inclinations and can aid virtuous choices or hinder them, the devil is in the detail.

It is a common understanding that this ratio is about right for prudent stability and moderate progress - the urge to preserve what is working to a certain extent satisfactorily and trying new and better ways. The one group needs the other, to avoid disintegration the human social group must never become homogeneous in either direction; stuck rigidly in the old ways or changing anything or everything just for the sake of change.

Jay Zamberlin
4 months 2 weeks ago

At least you said "Probably." Other wise, this is totally a front loaded, begging the question premise.

Two problems: Political conservatives are not "black and white" on these issues, well, at least not immigration. There are gradations There is context. Here, the Pope is simply simplistic. And people are not necessarily dying here either, there is another false premise, if that were the case, we'd be seeing a lot more older and female immigrants, instead of army aged Syrians and Afghans and Somalis, talking men almost exclusively. Second, Conservatives (or thinking libs) are not that stupid to simply gloss over the salient facts in the name of some Utopianist theories about who should live where vs. Sovereign states rights to make some of those determinations, again, no one is excluding legitimate refugee status concerns (as the Pope loves to broad brush castigate here)

But it's starting to look like the airport crowded with so-called service dogs and now hamsters. It just doesn't pass the laugh test -- and people are not buying what this Pope is selling. Not to mention (did the Pope mention? NO he never does, that is the other problem) the present day decimation of Euro Culture and security at the hands of dedicated globalists' concerns and agendas.

These are REAL issues and the Pope lives in la la land, sitting, of course, himself behind huge walls while not taking in any refugees, or just some token PR stunt people. BASTA!!!

On the defense of "typical" 'pro - life' concerns: Conservatives agree with the Pope. (Of course, he's Catholic, he'd better line up with unborn). He's not feeling a need to nuance that and neither are staunch (from political vantage, usually driven by religion or civil rights concerns) defenders of life in the womb, or in regards to push back against gov't sanctioned suicide.

G Reeder-Ferreira
4 months 2 weeks ago

No mention of gun violence or the children and marginalized communities gun violence has affected the most. I guess that’s to polarizing for the US Catholic Bishops. They are weak when it comes to speaking against guns because they know they will get clobbered. They surrender their own values and just throw them away.

Michael Bindner
4 months 2 weeks ago

Consumerism and social insurance are the tools capitalists use to avoid revolution, but they try to get the highest return for that consumption possible and to pay as low a wage or tax as they can. To do this they avoid monopoly laws, make sure that they are big enough so that fewer positions exist than workers and especially by paying contributions to politicians keep taxes low. Consumers are reduced to marketing statistics, workers are made replaceable and the children of the poor get less than their own children. Indeed, capitalist ideology firmly believes that workers must be under paid and fear firing to work at all. Sounds like a good idea to me.
The vast majority of abortions occur because workers and their children are considered expendable. Some women abort because the pregnancy is dangerous. Life and death matters are about avoiding danger, not justice. The justice needed is economic, about $15 per hour base wage (or more) and $1000 per month per child. Doing both requires government action and only one side of the debate us willing to even discuss this.
That side that does not discuss economic justice hides the reality (actually both sides) that Roe will not only never be overturned, there will never be another challenge to it heard. Only Thomas would even hear an abortion case. Indiana v. Planned Parenthood was decided without hearing, with the Court invalidating the portion of law that sought to prohibit sex selective and Down's abortions. Abortion cases are not about life. They are about state power over women (and Latinos, migrant children and interracial and gay marriage and Catholics in the deep South (the pawns of the Roman anti-Christ).).
Sadly, there are many bishops who would like to have states empowered in many if these areas and turn a blind eye to family wage issues (including their own employees). I am all for encounter. I am sure that NARAL, NOW, NEA, PPUSA, DSA, the AFL-CIO, et al, would live to work with the USCCB, LSS, CHA and CCUSA to enact a $1K/mo/CTC and fight for $15 and the soul of the NRLC against the GOP and DLC. It would be glorious.

Michael Bindner
4 months 2 weeks ago

Both Franis and Benedict would agree with much of this, although they do not understand natural rights as being different from natural law nor their incompetence in both. To be competent, one must admit to the possibility of being wrong.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

Amen Brother!

J Jones
4 months 2 weeks ago

In a National Catholic Reporter article in which Camosy assails Sr Simone Campbell, he describes a fetus at 12 weeks gestation as "a prenatal child turning 12 weeks old". In that article and in this, Camosy brilliantly works to obscure the average person's understanding of distinctly different meanings of many words, working to create a linguistic and thus cultural slow-walk toward eliminating women's right to sovereignty and bodily integrity. Camosy is working to create a linguistic slow-walk so slow most are going to miss the fact that Camosy is gently leading them away from women's right to privacy (Roe v Wade). He brilliantly asks us to place our hands in his chummy grip as he expertly teaches us here to view "privacy" as the opposite of "the culture of encounter" and to view women's right to sovereignty and bodily integrity as gateway drugs to "the throw-away" culture. (The title of his presentation at a Catholic Healthcare conference in Chicago? "A Throw-Away Culture": Speaking About Abortion in the Era of Pope Francis".)

It is glaringly absent from Camosy's argument here that women (who are still disproportionately represented in most vulnerable populations) tend to be on the front lines of efforts to address all of the issues Camosy details above, and that women have always been on those lines. Camosy is describing an intersectionality of issues that women have long understood and rallied around. Camosy co-opts women's role-based and historical understanding of the interconnectedness of all human activity and all Creation, and he then declines to acknowledge that, as women have gained the rights to protections under the law, so have other vulnerable populations. He also declines to acknowledge that the movement to save the planet has grown alongside and, to a large extent, *because* of women's achievement of increasing civil rights. Camosy is an extremist who is a brilliant tactician in the art of co-opting the language of civil rights, anti-war, antipoverty, pro-healthcare, pro-family, disability rights, animal rights, anti-discrimination, pro-environmental and other justice movements of which women have historically been early and consistent and powerful advocates.

In fact, because of the resulting ascendancy of women's voices, men like Camosy are finally attending to women's firsthand understanding of the threat to human life presented by disregard for the environment. Nonetheless, Camosy - like many extremists on abortion - implicitly positions women's full civil rights as the gateway drug to a culture that devalues life rather than the historical turning point toward a just and sustainable world.

Camosy should be read very carefully. He is an ideological extremist with unusually brilliant tactical skills for obscuring his ultimate goal, which is the establishment of civil rights for fetuses. The Equal Rights Institute" (https://equalrightsinstitute.com) of which Camosy is a board member has branded itself with the language of civil rights advocacy used by women, Native Americans, African Americans and other historically and currently vulnernable communities. The tag line for this institute is "Training Pro-Life Advocates to Think Clearly, Reason Honestly, and Argue Persuasively". Camosy's particular take, on display here, would have young people standing around the Keurig machine at the local campus Newmann Center, bearded chins in hand, asking "Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe we have been conned into using enough plastic keurig cups to circle the world ten times because we fell victim to the selfish value system of women who throw away babies because they find them burdensome and inconvenient?" Camosy's particular goal is to slow-walk particularly young Americans into establishing civil rights for fetuses or, in his world, "prenatal children turning ___ weeks old". Again, with his partners at the ERI, Camosy is co-opting movements which historically gain momemtum only as women achieve civil rights, and he seeks to use the language of those movements to strip women of their own civil rights by assigning civil rights to fetuses.

NOTE: Camosy's effort to misrepresent Sr Simone Campbell: https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/sr-simone-campbells-inconsistent-ethic-life

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

Wow! Thanks for the background information. It does fit this article to a tea - Avoid viewing the facts that Pro-Life legal remedies kill both women and the unborn in far greater numbers worldwide than all planned parenthoods combined for the last decade, and just listen to my baseless but freedom sounding rhetoric.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

And this is why we need a new pope and one who is serious about what has caused so much of our problems. And YES! - the root, of so many, of our global problems is misogyny and sexism. It has been so for decades, and centuries, that sexism has been at the root of the overpopulation crisis, on a global scale, and with religious powerful men keeping both birth control and abortion from the poorest women, around the world, rather then supplying them with birth control and abortion. Religious men have been doing this intentionally, and in order to keep control over women's lives thru reproduction rates. Overpopulation caused by sexism and misogyny has kept women poorer than men, and poor countries poorer than wealthy ones. The religious male leaders of our world have known that countries where women have access to reproductive remedies, make cultures where women can plan pregnancies, and manage to get an education, and career, which takes them out of both poverty and the control of rich white men.

This same misogyny based overpopulation, has also caused, and is still causing, the climate change crisis more than any other single issue. It is also causing the immigration crisis worldwide, global disease threats, and large scale poverty and the wars that come from them. Overpopulation and sexism have also led to greater sex trafficking, of both women and children, and the resulting, desperate desire, in these poor countries, to see some amount of governmental control and order, has led to many of these nations allowing dictatorships to take over what were once democracies.

Terrorism is also rooted in misogyny since it is the western influence of women's justice and freedom that many of these conservative Islamic religions are fighting against. They, like our Pope, know and have always known that women, when they can control how many children they have and when, always become a force equal to men in society and they are no longer the slaves of their husbands. This results in healthier, happier, children, men and women, in the end. But it also results in a laity or faith membership that will fight for women to be treated as Christ demands - and ordained and respected the same as men, or for female Imams too.

It is not a coincidence this pope fights for every progressive ideal except those that will free women and gain them equality and autonomy over their own bodies. He comes from the continent with the most severe criminal laws against abortion and birth control and with the highest abortion rates and maternal death rates to match. It is time women demand our hierarchy elect a pope who seeks justice and a better life for all of its members and one who sees women as equals and will ordain them as equals.

J Jones
4 months 2 weeks ago

Nora, thoroughly and well said. Pope Francis is wonderful in many ways, and he is comfortable with the Church's structural misogyny which results in these manifestations of misogyny. I think his pontificat was necessary: we are learning that though this good man gets it right in so many ways, the Church cannot and will not escape its human limitations until it rejects its human misogyny and that will be possible only when it is led by humans who reject misogyny and dismantle the misogynistic structure of the Church.

Popes are elected by human beings, cardinals and archbishops and bishops are appointed by human beings, priests are chosen and assigned by human beings: this misogyny is chosen and reinforced by men, not God.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 2 weeks ago

Thanks J!

Lisa M
4 months 2 weeks ago

Great article. Great pope. Hopefully, in time Catholics will embrace the message of being pro life from womb to tomb, through our actions with each other, as the gospel so clearly spells out. That is true liberation.

Martha Murray
4 months 2 weeks ago

Thank you for expressing an honest insight into Pope Francis and making the complex understandable. I have come to similar conclusions concerning his works and words. I have learned one has to listen beginning to end to Pope Francis to understand his teachings correctly. There are too many that paraphrase his words to push agendas and create division. The faithful pick up on this easily but I always am concerned the vulnerable can be further harmed by the manipulation .

karen oconnell
4 months 2 weeks ago

i have a real problem with the unilateral use of the phrase ''throw away culture'' in reference to abortion and euthanasia. the use of the phrase indicates a very shallow understanding of the ''problem.''' how many of us, if we knew that our child in utero would be condemned to a life of pain and suffering would reverse the ''moment of conception'' if that were indeed possible. i would hope that we would reverse the ''moment of conception'' as a huge act of charity. by the same token, 'euthanasia' is in most instances carried out as a way of dealing with irreversible pain. the patient has usually indicated a certain level of 'approval' should this ever become her or his reality. it would be very difficult not to offer that kind of solice to someone in excruciating pain.

J Jones
4 months 2 weeks ago

Karen, I agree.

Ray Dubuque
4 months 2 weeks ago

If Pope Francis were a "Liberal like Christ", he would be a supporter of http://ChristianChoice.Org .

Mike Macrie
4 months 2 weeks ago

I’am amazed on how many Augustinian & Aquinas Thinkers have chimed in on this article. For the most part the comments fall consistently into one’s own view of the world around them. I myself not attending any Theology School other than a Catholic School would think that our Pope knows a little more about Theological Matters than the common man.

J Jones
4 months 2 weeks ago

One of the beauties of this pope is that --- my guess here---- he lives with an openness to learning theology from every person he meets.

Robert Klahn
4 months 1 week ago

Ya know, it really isn't necessary to write an article as the script for a 55 minute lecture to a class. If you can't say it in 15 minutes, it probably did not need saying.

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