A Seamless Garment That Fits

It has been the taunt of those advocating the moral legitimacy and legalization of abortion since the modern pro-life movement began: “You’re not pro-life; you’re just against abortion. You couldn’t care less about the lives of mothers or children after the nine months of pregnancy are over.”

The accusation as made is truly false. In the first place, anybody who ever visits or volunteers with a lifecare center will know that telephone counseling is not simply a matter of making arguments to women not to abort, but involves the support of women in crisis who are often pushed toward the option of abortion by boyfriends, husbands, or family members. Words of affirmation and reason are certainly involved, as well as the great gift of seeing by ultrasound that what is inside them is not a what but a who. So too are recommendations and referrals to sources of medical, financial, and emotional help if the mother is keeping her baby, to options for adoption for those who do not believe themselves capable of taking care of the child whom they are carrying. Many lifecare centers have on hand donated clothing, diapers, baby formula, beds, strollers, and other things needed for mothers to care for their children. A number collaborate with groups providing free housing for homeless pregnant women. Along with material tools of motherhood are classes on childcare. The pro-life center’s purpose is to assist women in saying yes to the human life within them—letting it live and caring for it.

Those who have taken up full-time work advancing the legal recognition and protection of innocent human life are neither opposed nor uninterested in the welfare of mothers and children after the birth has occurred. Many of their efforts have centered around the fact that the American abortion industry has largely involved unregulated medical practice leading not only to the deaths of babies but also to the maiming of many women seeking abortion, as the writer Will Saletan, an uneasy pro-choice journalist, has detailed in a series of articles for the center-left magazine Slate. Many other efforts have resulted in laws allowing desperate women who have given birth alone to drop off their babies at hospitals when the women are worried that they cannot care for the child. To be pro-life is to care about the medical, emotional, and spiritual health of women as well as the life and health of babies. 

The More Sophisticated Criticism and the “Seamless Garment”
While the criticism is easily dispatched in its narrower form, another version has also continuously circulated, particularly by more sophisticated critics of the pro-life movement and the Catholic Church in general. This is that while pro-lifers might care about mothers and babies in the earliest stages of life, they don’t really care about human life in all its phases.   Pro-lifers, they say, are obsessed only with babyhood, not middle age or old age.

The strangeness of this claim can be seen by looking at the numbers involved in legalized abortion. While some individual pro-lifers do spend the vast majority of their work on the issue of abortion itself, this is because the task is so monumental. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s public policy arm, the number of abortions in 2013 was the lowest since 1973—but that still meant over one million abortions in the United States. Compare this number to those cited in the Center for Disease Controls 2011 report on causes of death for 2010. Deaths from poisoning (46,047), injuries (187,464), motor vehicle accidents (33,783), and firearms (32,351), when added together, total less than 30 percent of the deaths from abortion in 2013, yet who would accuse people working full-time to reduce deaths in one of these areas of not caring about others? The charge is simply absurd. That one spends most of one’s time working on one societal problem does not indicate unconcern with others.

The pro-life movement has certainly not limited itself to the issues of abortion, in any case. The new threats of euthanasia, either direct or in the form of assisted suicide, and health rationing by insurance companies, hospitals, and state and national health services have been resisted in large part by the pro-life movement, which opposes the killing of the innocent adult or sick child just as much as it opposes the killing of the child in the womb. Additionally, many in the pro-life movement have taken on the causes of limiting or eliminating the death penalty and also limiting the use of force by nations in wars.

Pro-life leaders from the 1970s on have been anxious to assure people that their cause is one that does embrace the totality of human life. Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was the most famous proponent of talking about a “seamless garment” or “consistent ethic of life” as the way of thinking about the pro-life cause. His first sustained speeches to articulate this position, as the chairman of the U. S. Bishops’ committee on pro-life concerns, were in lectures at Fordham University and St. Louis University in 1983 and 1984. In these lectures, as well as several books, Cardinal Bernardin urged Catholics and pro-lifers to think about the different threats to life under the rubric of a “seamless garment” all united by a thread of reverence for life. In Bernardin’s writings, he was careful to note that he was not trying to equate every threat or destructive reality. He asserted: “A consistent ethic of life does not equate the problem of taking life (e.g., through abortion and in war) with the problem of promoting human dignity (through humane programs of nutrition, health care, and housing). But a consistent ethic identifies both the protection of life and its promotion as moral questions” (March 11, 1984 address). He noted that he wanted to keep moral questions distinct, but see them through a wider lens.

The unfortunate result, however, was that the “Seamless Garment” argument was used by many Catholics precisely to treat all issues as the same, theoretically at least. The late Catholic writer Joseph Sobran complained that the consistency usually only worked one way. If you supported the welfare state, you were thereby opposing abortion even if you worked to keep it legal by your other political actions. The “Seamless Garment” in practice became a disguise by which people who wished abortion to be legal were able to claim to be authentically pro-life while deriding others who did work for the legal protection of the unborn, but who had different prudential judgments about when a war was just, when the death penalty can be used, or what means best helps the poor get out of their poverty.

In other words, the failure to make distinctions that Bernardin said was not part of a true consistent ethic of life was precisely what happened. Every individual issue of concern was weighted the same and people who did not oppose abortion or euthanasia claimed that those who did not oppose the death penalty in toto or a particular social program were really not pro-life while pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia activists were. This issue has been brought up repeatedly, notably a decade ago when some bishops began attempting to apply canon law about the worthy reception of holy communion more consistently by informing Catholic politicians whose votes and public actions favored legalized abortion and euthanasia that they were ineligible to receive communion. Such bishops were told they were “politicizing the sacrament” since they did not deny communion to those who supported the war in Iraq or who did not favor the complete abolition of the death penalty. Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect of the CDF, responded in a 2004 document, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles”:

Not all moral issues have the same weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

That same year the Church published the Compendium of Social Doctrine. It was similarly clear about the distinctions between the issues. Paragraph 570 says that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” These laws and programs obviously concern abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage. Paragraph 571 provides a contrast: “The Church’s Magisterium does not wish to exercise political power or eliminate the freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding contingent questions.” It is here that we find all the other questions of human flourishing, the answers to which will vary depending on the context of the situation and the prudence of the individuals making judgments.

A Seamless Garment that Fits
The failure of the “Seamless Garment” was that, despite the explicit words of its founder, it was turned into a one-size-fits-all pro-life tee shirt that would fit those who were for abortion and euthanasia but be used to strangle actual pro-lifers who disagreed with others on what the Compendium calls “contingent questions.” If there was consistency in the consistent ethic of life, it was largely political. But Cardinal Bernadin and others who wished a more consistent attitude toward issues were not wrong in principle. Pope St. John Paul II issued a similar call in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae. There the pope analyzed in a holistic way what he called a “culture of death” pervading modern and particularly western society, to which a “culture of life” should be proposed. St. John Paul was absolutely clear on the distinctions. All issues call for care and thought but certain actions must never be done: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral” (EV 57).

The culture of life is not a matter of a checklist in which all items are the same. The protection in law and culture of the innocent is paramount and categorically different from other issues in that only one response to challenges to it can suffice—no! But mere protection of human life is not the end of the culture of life. The promotion of flourishing and care for all life, especially life that is weak, poor, sick, and aged must follow: “Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good. We need then to ‘show care’ for all life and for the life of everyone. Indeed, at an even deeper level, we need to go to the very roots of life and love” (EV 87).

This reaching to the roots of life and love means that consistent charity, in the sense of acts of love, must be preceded by consistent charity, in the sense of the cultivation of the gift of love poured into every Christian’s heart at baptism. St. John Paul makes clear that the beginning of a true culture of life will involve a cultivation of a “contemplative outlook” that will instill “a deep religious awe to rediscover the ability to revere and honor every person” (EV 83), seeing in each one “the image of God’s glory … the sign of the living God, an icon of Jesus Christ” (84). Reverence and honor to Christ’s living icons will be given in the coin of service, love, and above all mercy. A truly consistent ethic of life is merely the broader application of what Catholics have always known as the works of mercy, which have been directed both to bodily and spiritual concerns. Giving food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead—the corporal works of mercy—must always be done in connection with instructing the ignorant (what St. John Paul calls a “work of education”), admonishing sinners and doubters, comforting the afflicted, forgiving wrongs, and, above all, prayer. Prayer must be the foundation of any lasting works, large or small.

Threading Together the Garment
I personally like the notion of a culture of life better than a garment. A culture is something that grows. But for those who prefer the image of a seamless garment, it may be better to talk about making a seamless garment of life for our society. Given that image, we may ask what kinds of threads we need.

St. John Paul insisted we start with a thread of consistency in our families and those immediately around us, where “there is an everyday heroism made up of gestures of sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life.” This heroism is especially seen in what he calls “the invincible love” of ordinary mothers who suffer and pass on the best of themselves in giving birth and raising children (EV 86).

From these families and small circles of friends in which authentic self-giving is practiced must come larger threads that encompass groups that are not easily cared for by the family. St. John Paul talks at length about the particular duties of health-care personnel and those involved directly in political life, as well as the work of educating couples preparing for marriage, providing education and counseling for already-formed families, and caring for the elderly and terminally ill. He also notes that there are many more specific tasks that must be met by initiatives devised by those who will need “skill and serious commitment”:

When life is challenged by conditions of hardship, maladjustment, sickness or rejection, other programs—such as communities for treating drug addiction, residential communities for minors or the mentally ill, care and relief centers for AIDS patients, associations for solidarity especially towards the disabled—are eloquent expressions of what charity is able to devise in order to give everyone new reasons for hope and practical possibilities for life (EV 88).

The list of initiatives here clearly does not exhaust the needs that are out there and ever-changing. To these lists we might add addressing addictions to pornography and confusion about sexual identity, programs for general education and job training for those who have been economically left behind, and ministry to prisoners and those who have been in prison.

A Coat of Many Bright Colors
I can’t list all of the kinds of threads needed to fit the garment together because I don’t know what they are. The way in which needs are discovered, programs are made, and needs are met is the cultivation of those prayerful eyes that look out and see Jesus in disguises that are sometimes subtle and sometimes distressing. But the cultivation of those eyes must be accompanied by the cultivation of minds, too. As the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain observed concerning art, “piety is no substitute for technique.” The renovation of a Catholic vision of education in which faith and reason are seen as complementary is essential to coming up with creative answers to the needs of our time. A world that is increasingly complex will require technically complex solutions. We will need a lot of threads, and some of the materials for them may be made of complex synthetic fibers.

Three more things must be said about the character of those fibers, however. First, Catholics and pro-lifers must continue to figure out how to make some of them very bright so they can be seen by others. The use of older and newer forms of media in ways that will change the dominant narratives about life issues are necessary. So too are the cultivation of arts, high and low. As St. John Paul observed, “Art has a unique capacity to take one or other facet of the message and translate it into colors, shapes and sounds which nourish the intuition of those who look or listen.” The seamless garment must be beautiful if people will willingly wear it.

Second, the specifically Catholic and Christian elements of these fibers must be plain. While collaboration with all people of good will is necessary, institutions and initiatives must be directed by those with a similar vision of and service to Christ. To be mere social workers is to betray the spiritual ministry that is the consistent pro-life task.

The third point, related to the second, is that those creating these initiatives must figure out ways of funding their projects without government aid so that they won’t be forced to accept immoral conditions of the funding. The diocese of Tulsa’s Catholic Charities is in the forefront of recognizing this need for freedom to act in accord with Catholic teaching and toward a real human flourishing of head, heart, and body. It’s that full flourishing in freedom that will characterize a Seamless Garment that fits.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared in the Winter 2014 (Vol. IV. No. 4) issue of Bellarmine Forum Magazine (posted February 5, 2015) and is reprinted with permission of the Bellarmine Forum. (Photo credit: Cardinal Bernardin in 1996 / AP photo)

David Paul Deavel

By

David Paul Deavel is associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture. He earned a Ph.D. in theology from Fordham University and has taught at the University of St. Thomas (MN) and the St. Paul Seminary. His writing has appeared in a number of books as well as a wide variety of popular and scholarly journals.

  • rico 101

    to start first thing should be understanding a life issue vs a standard of living issue

  • Samuel63

    I had to endure homilies in the Bernadin era and archdiocese of Chicago that promoted this perversion of the life issues. It was truly sad to see a priest offer the seamless garment concept in his homily with full dramatic flair and with an air of a faux intellectual. It made me feel ill. I knew each time I heard this rubbish that something was terribly wrong. The real test though is defined by the Master (Jesus) who said, “judge by the fruits.” With the Saint Patrick’s Day parade as “Exhibit A”, I find this American extension of the one true Church to be guilty.

  • JP

    The Seamless Garment in reality is a propaganda device used to keep Pro Life Catholics on the defensive. The Pro Abortion Lobby is concerned with one and only one thing – money. And the Democrats today rely on the campaign cash given to them via the Pro Abortion Lobby that the Democrats of 1950 relied upon campaign cash from the AFL-CIO.

    I live in a decaying neighborhood situated in the Rust Belt. And I can tell you that the Progressives care not a wit about the poor. It is high time that Orthodox Catholics turn the tables of those who push the Seamless Garment. I have no idea if Cdl Bernadine was just a well meaning, naive dupe of the Progressive Left (he seemed to me like a really good guy), or if he actually believed that claptrap. But, once you peel away the layers of rhetoric, sloganeering, bombast, and political agitprop, money is at the heart of the Abortion Industry.

    • John Flaherty

      I would make one caveat to this assertion, JP: The Abortion Lobby is concerned with money, yes, but also with lust.
      We would not have nearly as much of a struggle if the opposing side wasn’t obsessed with advocating for adamant sexual license.

    • “And I can tell you that the Progressives care not a wit about the poor. ”

      Sure they do. Progressivism is the 3D printer of poverty (moral, spiritual and physical). Institutionalized poverty is a rich vein of votes for them to mine.

  • John Flaherty

    I have little choice but to note that I have long since been thoroughly disgusted by the whole “Seamless Garment” idea. Whatever Cardinal Bernardin thought he intended by the idea, his principle of dignity of human life has long since been abandoned in practice. We needed–and need–an insistence on living a life of virtue, including sexual chastity. We’ve actually received trumpet blast after trumpet blast to spend federal or state money or to concede cultural battleground to secular or progressive interest.
    Bluntly put, where we’ve needed bishops to be insistent about the need to live and vote Catholic, we’ve had insistent refusal on the part of bishops to even refuse communion to wayward “Catholic” politicians. We’ve heard how we can’t politicize anything or be partisan.

    Sorry, Your Excellencies, but the other side already politicized the whole mess and did so by means of partisan political maneuvering. You’ve been used dozens of times to help institute the very evil you should be fighting against.

    We can’t win any cultural fight if you won’t even admit that the other side has been the aggressor.

  • I really don’t care what Bernardin “intended”, because with or without this neologism, he was worse than the worse caricature (and make no mistake, it is a caricature) of the indifferent pro-lifer.

    As the Church suffered under apathy and apostasy, and the Bishops of the time mishandled the abusers, all while issuing grandeloquent screeds on nuclear war and the economy.

    Worse, while concocting this nonsense, Bernardin’s left-wing apparatus took the offerings of widows and orphans, not to deploy armies of nuns into schools, or to run soup kitchens or marital counseling centers, -but to finance the political activities of Barack Obama, and to send him to “training”.

    As a moral, if not legal trustee of those funds, Bernardin misspent them.
    He is worse than Wolsey. His took money from the poor box and used it to buy a flimsy see-through negligee to satsfy his political lusts.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/us/the-catholic-roots-of-obamas-activism.html?_r=0

    The paper trail is here:

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/07/23/new-books-ironic-claim-catholic-church-paid-to-send-obama-to-an-alinsky-founded-groups-community-organizing-training-see-the-documents/
    Bernardin personified everything that was wrong with the late 20th century US Episcopacy.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      Amen! You can tell a great deal about a person by the friends he keeps.

  • Florian

    March 23rd…Those who work towards the ending of these mass slaughters of innocent human babies care very much for all life; however, the lives of babies in the womb have only a brief period of time in which the decision to allow them to live or to die can be made. The mother may decide at any moment to end the life of her child…and a child not permitted to be born will never receive all those wonderful benefits that are talked about – dead is dead! Murderers on death row seem to cause more of a public outcry than those babies in the womb – innocent babies – are not given a thought by many. We have been experiencing a genocide of the human race where generations and generations of human lives are being exterminated in the womb of their mothers. When people witness on television the atrocities committed by ISIS or Boko Haram, we are horrified! And well we should be. Can we even imagine what it would look like to pile along our highways and byways the millions of tiny bodies killed in the wombs of their mothers? There are videos of a baby in the womb trying to move away from the abortionist’s scalpel, coming at him to dismember his tiny body…Mother Theresa of Calcutta always felt that the extermination of innocent babies in the wombs of their mothers was the root cause of all violence because, she said, if we would kill the innocent baby in the womb of his mother, what would we not do? Indeed…

  • pbecke

    No. The second , ‘more sophisticated’ criticism is absolutely valid, although anything but an argument against protecting,/reverencing life in the womb. .

    I loathe the very thought of abortion, with little mites, in the later stages, already with personalities, being torn limb from limb, but I also loathe the thought of the Church’s historic dereliction of the public at large/aka increasingly as, ‘the poor, which led to a vast preponderance of fascist tyrannies, world-wide, some still extant, no doubt, the creation and spread of Communism, the very early takeover from a Methodist lay-preacher, Keir Hardie, of the British Labour Party by atheists, as well as more than 600,000 homeless people, including hole families, in the US, alone, without a home, at a very time when its richest citizens were claiming that the country was richer than it had ever been: a scandalous boast bout a satanic scandal.

    Captalism without adamantine, Christian curbs, alas, morphs into ‘unfettered capitalism, and the latter into corporatism/fascism, which has been so rapidly overtaking the West, the former ‘Christendom’..

    ‘More than 600,000 Americans are homeless
    on a given night, according to the latest government data, which
    conducts a count on a specific night in January every year. Nearly a
    quarter are children and a third were living in unsheltered places like
    parks, cars, or abandoned buildings.

    The number of people who are chronically homeless, or who have been
    continuously homeless for more than one year or experienced at least
    four episodes over the last three, is over 100,000, and two-thirds go
    unsheltered. There were more than 57,000 homeless veterans.’

    From here:

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/11/22/2982691/hud-homeless-count/

    • Asmondius

      Priorities, priorities…..

      • pbecke

        Absolutely!

    • You can always tell the leftist wolves in sheep’s clothing, for whom envy is equity.

      The website cited- has a tab at the top LGBT.

      The Catholic left, it’s Catholic left behind.

      If there’s any Catholic assistance to fascist tyrannies, it’s attributable to certain Episcopal enablers of the present regime in Washington, you know the ones that wanted to be “cheerleaders”.

      • pbecke

        ‘You can always tell the leftist wolves in sheep’s clothing, for whom envy is equity,’

        Well, it’s true Jesus rounded on his followers quite bitterly, since many did so for the guarantee of a square meal of a little bread and fish – rather than coveting a late-model Mercedes. Then there was the farmer who pulled down his barns to build bigger ones, after a bumper harvest – common sense in our capitalist world.

        You are in a glass house on this issue. Don’t throw boulders.

        ‘The website cited- has a tab at the top LGBT and complains that women are being priced out of abortion.’

        That is the scandal I was alluding to. You have to visit liberal atheist sites, rather than Christian sites, to get the lowdown on the villainy of right-wing puppet governments and their ‘deep state’ puppet-masters. It comes with atheist depravities, of course.

        • ” You have to visit liberal atheist sites, rather than Christian sites, to get the lowdown on the villainy of right-wing puppet governments and their ‘deep state’ puppet-masters.”

          Pornography is a sin, even political pornography, so no.

          • pbecke

            A total evasion. What else could you do? It’s unanswerable.

            • Your original post is an example of why one wouldn’t visit such sites.I have no interest in such intellectual, moral and spiritual trash.

              • pbecke

                That is amusing: moral and intellectual bankruptcy at its most naked.

                I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you try to explain to God why you equate the most elementary economic justice – adequate food, shelter, clothing and a modicum of dignity – with pornography.

                • “why you equate the most elementary economic justice – adequate food, shelter, clothing and a modicum of dignity – with pornography.”
                  Because the atheist left talks about this stuff all the time, and never delivers. We spent trillions on the “war on poverty” and poverty, especially moral poverty has won decisively. We have a massive bureaucracy that assures us of their indispensability, but I see carnage.
                  I make my living accounting for results-and when people promise to resolve a problem, and then spend in excess to produce negative results, I would never say or recommend that there’s no accountability, in fact here you go-here’s more staff and a bigger budget.
                  In short, I find the program of the left to be fraudulent nonsense peddled by people who insidiously praise themselves for their cheap contrived indignities but conceal a certain condescension for the objects of their pity-they look down on others as poor stupid dolts who need their enlightenment. Of course, most of the people who go to TP are merely useful idiots for the professional left, who wants poverty, chaos and disorder because it makes for a dependent and malleable electorate who can be easily conditioned to vote for the likes of Joe Biden whose dedication to the material welfare of his fellow man was illustrated by his massive sub-400 dollar charitable contributions last year. I’ve prepared tax returns for people that donate that MONTHLY, and with a fraction of the means Biden and his wife possess.
                  We aren’t talking past each other-I understand you completely.

                  • pbecke

                    Yes, I think you do. I FEAR I understand you – not on my account; on yours.. All your post was about was money. Money, money, money.

                    Do you really believe the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes were just intended as poetry? Jesus could scarcely have been more unequivocal concerning his contempt for money. No. Not what use it was put to. Just money.

                    I don’t expect this to make any impact on you. If you ignore Christ’s teachings, who am I…. Now, if I were a finance minister, you’d show Christ the door! So, this my last communique to you on any topic remotely concerned with money.

                    I wish you well, as we’re all Jock Tamson’ bairns..

                    • In all candor, you can’t understand me, because you don’t understand yourself and you can’t even see that, so likewise I expect no impact on you. Your mind is closed in conspiracy and self-righteousness.
                      Like most leftists, far from having contempt for money, you worship it. If you can just get your hands on enough, you and your ilk will bring paradise on earth.
                      I’m not fooled by you. You are envious and greedy-other’s positions or wealth infuriate you.

                    • pbecke

                      ‘Like most leftists, far from having contempt for money, you worship it. If you can just get your hands on enough, you and your ilk will erect a great golden calf of the administrative superstate.

                      I’m not fooled by you. You are envious and greedy-other’s possessions or wealth infuriate you- but God knows that couching covetousness in the language of charity is just ordinary envy.’

                      These, your last two paragraphs, alas, say it all. You could hardly be further from the truth. Though I am on the lowest pension, and consequently supplemented by a Pension Credit, I have no rent or rates to pay, thanks to the generosity of my hardworking stepson and even a further £16 a week from another source; in short, in addition to my pension, I am the beneficiary of some wealthy people’s generosity, and after making my own small contribution to the needy, I still have money left at the end of the week; which I try to save for contigencies.

                      I also have a truly devout Christian friend – much less vocal and demonstrative about his faith than me, you’ll be pleased to learn – who mends my car, quite a nice little Citroen CV3, not that old, for a song; as he says, ‘on account’ – on account I don’t have any money.’

                      But far from lusting after money, I’ve sought physical poverty most of my life. Though its not something too hard to achieve.

                      But you’re right in one regard. I should have taken your arguments more seriously, since they are so flagrantly potty, reducing you, ultimately to riotously imaginative ad hominems.

                      Your obsession with riches and worldly power prompts you to not only obsess about money, but to again defend yourself by pointing at the gross inadequacies of left-wing governments, mostly consisting of ‘power’ people just as much as their right-wing counterparts. That is what Eve and then Adam did. ‘It was the snake, said Eve; It was the woman, said Adam.

                      Maybe i did, but I don’t remember bringing up politics. since in the US and UK, both parties are desperately corrupt in Christian terms (as well as being economically right-wing, if less cynical than the brand leader), and politics is not the core of the Christian Gospel, despite the latter’s ultimate enailments. You are trying to use politics as a ‘front’, in the same way that political parties use religion as ‘front’, the right, the First Commandment, the left, the Second. A strange irony.

                    • Because I don’t and won’t worship your god state doesn’t mean I’m a hoarder, idolater

                    • pbecke

                      See, you can’t rid yourself of political fears. Where your treasure is, there your heart is.

                      But perhaps your omitting to reply to my question concerning your apparent view of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and Beatitudes as just poetry does mean you’re an idolater. If you’re not a hoarder or idolater, good.

                      What Biden does concerning his gifts to charity is of sovereign irrelevance to your own attitude to a minor redistribution of wealth. God won’t be distracted by your accusing other people. One of the prayers in Fridays’ Morning Prayer in the breviary, asks of the Lord:

                      ‘End the rebellion within our hearts; make us generous and willing to share.

                      – Lord Jesus, may your death bring us to life.’
                      That is part of the Gospel message most of you seem to be reviling in Francis’s words.

                    • Hundreds of millions dead give good reason not to listen the envious fantasies of state idolaters. Take your strange god away.

      • pbecke

        I wasn’t just talking about today. I was talking about the historic record of Catholic tyrannies in South America, the Iberian Peninsula, etc – no doubt in collusion with the Episcopalian moguls of the ‘deep state’ who own the CIA and its antecedents, which was actually of Nazi provenance.

    • RufusChoate

      87% of the ~20% of the US GDP about 3 Trillion dollars is allocated to transfer payments to the poor as determined by the Federal Government and yet the percentage of the population classified as poor is the same as it was when the colossus of the Welfare state was erected in 1968 at 10%. There has been excess capacity in Government housing for the last 20 years Homelessness is a mythic term applied to people who due to mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction or criminal inclinations choose to live on the fringes of society. In more rational times they were called bums and derelicts to be incarcerated for their crime of vagrancy but the Left decided to baptize them as a victim group and call them Homeless because all of their problems would be solved if they had a home.

      The statistics you claim are anecdotal nonsense that no ever bother to corroborate but especially not the Left.

      • pbecke

        Strums lips. The only condign response. Though you’re obviously seriously rankled, to want to follow my Disqus posts.

        The cheap side of me wants to laugh, but spreading rancour is not good, however jejune one’s aspiring interlocutor.

        • RufusChoate

          I live to amuse.

          • pbecke

            You may not set your sights high, but no one can say that even in that you miss your mark. On the contrary, sir, your marksmanship qualifies you as a veritable paragon.

            Don’t put yourself down. ‘Little fish are sweet.’

            Just kidding. You’re probably not as bad as like to make out.

        • RufusChoate

          Not really, I follow for entertainment value.

        • RufusChoate

          By the way, I was very amused by your term “strum lips” That was great. Cheers and please have a great Passion Sunday and Holy Week.

          • pbecke

            You too, old chap.

  • fredx2

    It appears that Bernardin, at least theoretcially, and JP II are basically on the same track. However, Bernardin’s position was distorted (did he allow it to be distorted?) into essentially an anti-Catholic position that was thought to conflict with JP II’s position.

    There is the possibility that Bernardin himself was trying to do the right thing. Or, it is possible that he carefully crafted his theology to remain within Catholic doctrine, but in practice allowed it to be misused. I suppose only an expert on Bernardin and his time in office would be able to tell which is which.

    • “There is the possibility that Bernardin himself was trying to do the right thing.”

      Bernardin not only refused to pursue a canonical trial to remove Rev. Norbert Maday , a convicted child molester, from the priesthood, he increased the priest’s salary to help him in prison after loaning Maday $100,000 for his criminal defense.
      In a 1996 letter to Maday in prison, Bernardin wrote: “I have decided I will not seek your dismissal from the clerical state … I do not judge that justice and equity would be served by so severe a sanction. You have suffered enough by your present deprivation of ministry and your incarceration.”

      http://www.wcpo.com/news/national/chicago-archdioces-his-decades-of-child-abuse

      • fredx2

        Ooh, that is bad. Especially coming in 1996, which is rather late.

        My quote, of course, refers to his stance on the seamless garment, but your point is well taken.

    • Samuel63

      Cardinal Bernardin knew exactly what he was doing. He worked for a long time on the liberal fringes of politics. There is a weak link between him and Saul Alinsky. Make no mistake, he was a crafty fellow that did tremendous damage. The real question is, who identified him for the role and cleared a path for him to the college of cardinals? This is the real enemy.

  • littleeif

    Notwithstanding the rightness of supporting pregnant mothers, of supporting the poor, of questioning the need for capital punishment or of opposing war and euthanasia … why, again, cannot one simply say he is just disgusted by the concept of killing innocent children in the womb?

    It seems to me all the rest is obfuscation, thrown up like flak to explode a guided missile. I want world peace. Does that mean I have to wait for world peace to arrive before I can insist we stop killing little children?

  • Richardson McPhillips

    Well. I agree of course. Many pro-abortionists loved the Seamless Garment as a tool to beat down the pro-life voice of the Church. And yet, criticisms of the Seamless Garment, including those with generous quotations from Cardinal Ratzinger and others, seem to seek to mitigate the voice of the Holy Father when he said that the second invasion of Iraq was not justified by principles of Catholic ethics. Is that an occasion when we can legitimately disagree? And when the Catechism clearly outlines the possible justification for the death penalty in a way that clearly excludes the American practice of it. Are American Catholics on the right really engaging at all with the clear authoritative teaching of the Church? Or like “Catholic” pro-abortionists, looking for ways to ignore it in good faith?

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Bernardin should have been buried in a seamless garment… at sea. He defiles Mount Carmel Cemetery.

  • Segstan

    I am Pro Life. Abortion is an abomination that leads to even worse outcomes.

    The same people who push Abortion are the same people who push infanticide in Belgium, even killing children who are 3-4 years old.

    The same people who push abortion are the same crowd who push Euthanasia for seniors. Old people are routinely ignored and left to die of starvation, neglect, and denial of medication in British hospitals.

    The same clique that pushes Abortion, Infanticide, and Euthanasia, are the same click that promotes Animal Rights … as if that wasn’t hypocrisy on an epic scale.

    The same people who push Animal Rights are the same people who complain that there are too many people on planet Earth and that Government has an obligation to kill all the defective people, and limit the healthy people.

    By the way, who gets to define who is Healthy?

    They, the Progressive Liberals, claim the right to define Defective People as anyone who disagrees with them .. like those hate mongering religious fanatics called Christians .. especially Catholics.

    Anyone who supports Abortion, Infanticide, Euthanasia, Animal Rights, and the secular war on religion is actually using the Nazi Party play book. Amazingly the former victims of the Nazi regime now support the Nazi genetic doctrine.

    The people who promote this mentality also promote Designer Genetics.

    The Progressive Liberals aren’t so Liberal after all … they are Eco-Nazis who intend to murder anyone who doesn’t fit their Genetic Science standard. They intend this regime of murder for the entire planet under UN mandate.
    They also tell us that they are nice people who care about people.

    Satan has got to be laughing himself silly.

  • M.J.A.

    A topic that needs reminder often enough and as good as the intent of the author is , is it also somewhat revealing the mindset of the death culture ..there is the reference of the unborn baby as ‘it ‘ !
    Thank God The Church was moved by the Holy Spirit ( and for reasons that we maybe fathoming only slowly ) to declare the Dogma of The Immaculate Conception , having foreseen a time such as ours when even those who care , are forgetful of the dignity and personhood of the baby , thus mindless of calling the baby as ‘it ‘ !
    The other evidence of the cultural mindset and this attitude too , is among many if not most pro lifers , when they forget the impact and role on the father ; Bl.Mother had warned in Fatima , that war is a result of sin and we are said to be in a sort of WW111 – would it be that the efforts of pro lifers have contributed to enough repentance and its good effects , even in the men and the fathers who get impacted, into conforming more like the sinister , conniving violinist , who might seem comatose from being self centered or hardened of heart , with its contempt for life and esp. for women too ;
    thus , what some have mentioned as a pandemic of demonization with its ill effects at all levels, including the confusions , possibly the massive health risks such as the cancers , heart attacks , broken relationships and emotional issues , with reports of so many being on psych meds !
    Doing to /for the least and thus for The Lord – the impact of prolife efforts too unfathomable ; unsure if churches have looked into having the Vincent De Paul centers being also used as pro life centers , which in turn , might help to eradicate some of the seeming dichotomy and callousness !
    Incorporating a special blessing , may be along with the First Sat, devotions , in which blessings are invoked upon the expectant parents – a good way to affirm the personhood of the baby and the responsibility of love from the community , to bless the new life and the parents – Our Lord could not wait to do so as His first act , for His cousin John and mother Elisabeth .
    Thank God that The Church has already included prayers to St.Joseph ; may his prayers be there for all living and deceased in our midst , to bring mercy and wisdom at all levels !

  • reddog44

    This is an article that makes a lot of sense, and for a change I agree with the majority of comments. There is a glimmer of hope for the survival of true Christianity.

  • RufusChoate

    The recent betrayal of a faithful catholic teacher in New Jersey is yet another outrage against the Faithful that the Bernardin/Gumbleton/Weakland/Mahony/Egan/Dolan/Law etc… cabal that so worships the power of the state that they are willing to lubricate the wheels of the leviathan with the blood of the innocent just to make sure that its trains arrive at the abattoir of the left on time and keep the federal checks coming in.

    What about the 1.7 Billion dollars that these corrupt shepherds handed over to the deserving or undeserving paramours of homosexual priests. The same corrupt people that they adamantly assured us with solemn severe certainty were noble suffering servants better and more capable of appreciating the sins of fallen man than the pious men of the past.

    Now the same corrupt people who delivered the church over to the Sanhedrin of the Left for humiliation and a stripping away of the church’s moral authority are again demanding their pound of flesh. While it takes decades to purge dissidents from Catholic schools but a faithful catholic woman is purged like a lowly Kulak in several weeks for clearly articulating a truth because people who are not faithful or practicing catholic involved in objectively public sin complains.

    Who can take these simpletons and evil men seriously when they mouth vapid and vaporous nonsense about the sanctity of innocent human life when they don’t have moral courage or integrity to take the life of a murderer as punishment for the sin of Cain?

  • Ruth Rocker

    I read a news article recently about a bunch of elementary students who visited their state legislature in connection with studying how bills become laws. One in question was about the red-tailed hawk being made the state raptor (there’s such a designation?). During the debate one of the legislators commented that this bird should be the mascot for Planned Parenthood because it rips apart its victims with razor sharp claws in the same way an abortionist rips apart a baby. He was roundly scolded by his associates with comments about the comparison being disgusting. It was, indeed, a disgusting statement because abortion is disgusting.

    Lord protect your people in a time where good is called evil and evil is celebrated as cultural diversity and a human right!!

  • Alex Hradek

    It is gut-wrenchingly appalling on the most despicable level that Crisis would publish a piece that is sympathetic to the satanic, homosexualist enemy of Christ that was Cardinal Bernardin. Absolutely disgusting. David Paul Deavel, you should be ashamed of yourself. Truly ashamed of yourself. Next time do your homework before writing about the merits of some communist pervert piece of trash. Please read the links provided by DE-173. I do not think there was a more wicked Cardinal in the whole history of the Roman Catholic Church. We are still left picking up the pieces of that evil man’s mayhem.

  • Thomas J. Hennigan

    Regarding Bernardin we might state “de mortuis nisi bonum”, only remember the good about the dead. What about the fact that 25% of AIDS patients are taken care of by the Catholic Church around the world. Many of them die in peace with God thanks to this fact as Mother Theresa of Calcutta knew well. Is this not pro-life?

MENU