It does often seem as though our society likes pitting two sides against each other to have a fun sparring match. When I look at American Catholicism today, I see one word popping out of practically every mouth that’s allowed to speak openly in the Church, “Abortion”. A day hasn’t gone by since I started high school when I haven’t heard the “A” word being uttered by some priest or nun or deacon or lay conservative in the Church. The argument of the most prevalent Pro-Lifers, as a former spiritual director for a pro-life organisation, is that life is sacred and exists from conception to natural death, which is a perfectly honest and morally upright argument.
The trouble arises when the same person makes the argument that those who are Pro-Life are pitted against those who are Pro-Choice, in this case the choice of a woman to abort her child. I believe the folly here is in the word choice. If one thinks about it, one cannot really be Pro-Life without also being Pro-Choice, after all those of us who are Pro-Life have to “choose life”. On the flip side of the same coin, who’s to say that anyone isn’t Pro-Life? I mean, really, who’s not in favour of living? (For those who are, I’m sorry they feel that way, and I’ll pray for them.) What the Pro-Life movement here in the United States has become is nothing more than the “Pro-Birth” movement, focusing on allowing people to be born. And yet, the irony is that many of the politicians who swear to be Pro-Life also would have Universal Health Care blocked at all costs, when that itself can work to save lives and allow the ill to live longer without suffering. A good number of the same officials have sworn to vote against the President’s gun control legislation, which would once again save lives, but hurt their supporters in the NRA. For this reason, among many others, I have found myself increasingly disenfranchised with the movement.
Remember the next greatest gift of God after life: free will. In the end, when a woman decides to have an abortion, it is her own decision, and hers to make, not any of the rest of us. We can merely advise and pray, but from there we must let her make up her own decision. If the Church wants an end to Abortion, as it is often stated, then stop focusing so much on it. Stop giving it all the credit it has been given by the spiteful fire of countless bishops, priests, and laypeople.
Quite honestly, it seems simply wrong to throw fire at someone because of a decision about their sexuality that they made when the Church is so heavily plagued by scandal itself. And on top of that, I have a hard time finding it useful to listen to celibate men talk about women’s bodies and women’s health. It would be more sensible to listen to our priests talk about sexuality if they actually were married and could relate from personal experience. Of course, in regards to women’s health being preached upon in a homily, I say hold off on that until we have a woman doing the preaching, but let’s not rush ourselves here (I’m sure I’ve already given a few people some heart issues by calling for priestly marriage.)
In short, the Church, and clergy in particular, need to be more out in the world. It’s great and all that we have people who are ordained to be mediators between us the laity and God, but when that mediator cannot properly relate to us in full, because they live separate from the rest of us in regards to lifestyle, it can truly make a great disconnect between clergy and laity. And that’s really too bad. I look at my Greek Orthodox friends, whose priests can marry, and have children, and yes they have sex abuse issues at times, but not on quite a wide scale as we do in the Catholic Church.
The problems form in any society or organisation when those at the top cease to relate to those who they lead. It’s hard for a servant to serve when he does not understand the persona of his master. It is essential in regards to leadership that any leader is also a follower that any master is a servant to those who they lead. Without such a relationship between those who lead and those who follow, society breaks down.
In conclusion, let’s stop screaming about the Pro-Life stuff for a wee bit. I know, I know, the March for Life is scheduled for the coming days, but think about what we say, about what the words we use actually mean. As Albus Dumbledore said, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”