There is a certain kind of American who, when overseas or in the presence of foreigners—especially Western Europeans—goes out of his way to advertise that he’s not at all like his ignorant and reactionary countrymen. Usually he does this preemptively. A well-timed joke about George W. Bush could do the trick. So could an ostentatious roll of the eyes at the sight of the fat Yankee tourists in their obnoxious yellow pants, baseball hats, and windbreakers.
The point of this signaling is to acknowledge the intense shame that goes along with being a default member of a detested class. There is probably a charitable term for this kind of behavior. The only one I can think of is “self-loathing.”
There are Catholics like this, too. Some of them are fallen from the faith. They no longer attend mass and enjoy throwing rhetorical stones at silly buggers like you and me who haven’t yet sussed the Church’s anti-modern stance on the pressing issues of the day. But a good many self-loathing Catholics aren’t like that. In fact, a fair number of them are members of the clergy—priests, pastors, bishops, cardinals.
You know them. You heard a lot from them during the weeks after the Supreme Court issued its Obergefell decision inventing a constitutional right to same-sex “marriage.” Mostly they work for the Jesuit magazine America.
“No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality,” they told you. “God wants us to love. And not a twisted, crabbed, narrow tolerance, which often comes in the guise of condemnations, instructions and admonitions that try to masquerade as love, but actual love.”
“The bishops’ fight against gay marriage has been a waste of time and money,” they said. “Their fanatical opposition to the legalization of gay marriage has made young people look on the church as a bigoted institution with which they do not want to be associated.”
Such statements are the Catholic equivalent of over-vigorously nodding your head in disgust as the French couple in the hotel bar relates the story of the Buick-sized steak they were served on their trip to New York. The quisling posture of submission affords the morally effete a sweet, though fleeting, moment of disassociation with the values they hold in contempt merely because they are familiar. It feels so good to sell your own people out.
The latest round of self-righteous lectures from these self-loathing Catholics comes courtesy of the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies. Writing for America, Father Sam Sawyer, S.J., declares that the title of the video—“Planned Parenthood uses partial-birth abortion to sell baby parts”—is “wildly misleading.” Furthermore, “selective editing” of the video “has simply reinforced, for many, the pro-choice narrative about pro-life activists: unscrupulous, dishonest players willing to do anything necessary in order to control and limit women’s access to abortion.”
This is a puzzling thing to say in light of the storm of outrage generated by the video. We have rarely seen such frank talk about the grisly procedures from which the highly-subsidized Planned Parenthood generates its enormous cash flow. Yet, bizarrely, among Father Sam Sawyer’s first impulses is to remind pro-life activists of the cartoonish way they are viewed by the other side, and to warn them that they are playing into that stereotype by … by doing what exactly? By recording Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research admitting that “behind closed doors,” the organization’s executives have plotted to evade laws against trafficking in body parts?
Chiding pro-lifers for this video seems an altogether inappropriate response for a priest. Unless, of course, he’s worried that his sophisticated, progressive friends might end up reading his piece and deciding he’s one of those. In that case he might want to put a little distance between himself and the knuckle-dragging blobs of the Catholic pro-life movement whose twisted love of deceit and crabbed lack of scruples have brought such shame on the name of Jesus.
Father Sawyer actually called the video “deeply unfair” and seemed sympathetic to Nucatola’s “moving explanation of how she ended up focusing her practice as a physician on abortion.” I forget: Does the catechism on life require that the abortionist’s motives should be considered before condemnation of the act?
Recall, if you will, what it was that turned so many stomachs.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,” says Dr. Deborah Nucatola in the video. As she speaks, she stabs at a large salad and sips from a goblet of afternoon wine with the unmistakable sangfroid of someone who can’t imagine suffering the disapprobation of the sophisticated class.
If the makers of the video erred at all, it was in slapping a sensational title onto their video in order to attract as many eyeballs as possible. It’s the kind of thing the New York Post or the New Republic does every day. Chide them if necessary, but while you do, be sure to reiterate—and celebrate—Catholic teaching on the sanctity of innocent human life.
And try not to roll your eyes.