It seems that the lobby group ‘Catholics for Choice’ are neither Catholic nor really interested in allowing a Catholic the free choice of his or her conscience. What they are really interested in is ultimately bringing in abortion into the country, at whatever cost, which will wreak havoc with human rights. If we are not able to defend the right to life of the weakest of human beings in the uterus or in the laboratory test-tube, the whole edifice of human rights will crumble. We would have dismantled a basic rational tenet of the whole body of our human rights which is the right to life, especially the right to innocent life which is an absolute right. Catholics for Choice is financed by millionaire George Soros, whose sole intent is to bring in unfettered abortion around the world. This brings to mind what the role of the state should be in this case. If the state cannot protect the life of innocent human beings then the reason for its very existence is being usurped and unfulfilled by the very same state and its political masters and their underlings. Therefore, it would ultimately have failed in one of its most fundamental obligations – to protect the weak and the helpless in the face of unjust aggression.
Catholics for Choice purports to allow a woman, or any other Catholic because spouses have a say in this too, to have recourse to their conscience when deciding whether to have an abortion or not. There may be other extenuating factors surrounding the parents’ or the mothers’ lives which could lead one to conscientiously conclude that having an abortion would be the lesser evil in the circumstances. Our conscience is the inner sanctum where we weigh our moral and ethical options and obligations as to what is right or wrong. It is the highest authority guiding our moral actions, for Catholics it is the place where in the quietness of our soul, we meet God. Therefore, it is also for others who are not Catholic! Catholics for Choice are purporting that if a woman had to conscientiously conclude that abortion for her is the lesser evil, they would be morally placated in choosing to have an abortion and absolved from their inner guilt. Now there are several pitfalls here that would render a person choosing this option, to be not only not Catholic, but also manifestly not humane. For Catholics, the Church makes it clear that conscience is the highest form of binding moral authority for a person on condition that it is properly instructed or formed. Proper formation in this respect for the Church means that the individual has to consider the official teaching of the Church on the issue. The official teaching of the Church rests on three parameters. First is sacred scripture, second is teaching tradition and third is the teaching of the Magisterium, which is that of the Pope in unison with the bishops.
There is no doubt that in all three aspects of the above, the teaching is that under any circumstances, abortion is an evil that contradicts both sacred scripture in its old or new covenant and any tradition and teaching of the Magisterium. To ignore this and proceed on emotional feelings alone, would mean that one is not considering a formed conscience but one that is unformed, not through ignorance mind you because that is excusable, but through neglect or carelessness. One cannot claim to be a Catholic and ignore clear Catholic teaching on the matter. Nor can one declare to be a Christian and ignore clear scriptural teaching on the matter. To be an existentialist, putting our existence before our essence or nature, tends to be a fashionable trend today with many who say they are Christian, but can one call himself/ herself a Christian while jettisoning sacred scripture? Also, can one call himself/herself human at the same time rejecting human reason and the rationality regarding our nature? One ought to keep in mind what sacred scripture teaches in John’s Revelation. “I know your works; you are neither hot nor cold. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth”. Scripture is clear; one may be a good Catholic, obey God’s law, and be hot, one might, unintentionally, fail through human weakness to acknowledge God and his eternal law not from want of sincerely trying, and be cold, but one cannot claim to be a Catholic and ignore God’s law, because one would be lukewarm. Being lukewarm means that one is spat out by God from being part of his people! In short, one cannot claim to be a Catholic when one ignores all Catholic precepts. One cannot be a Christian when one ignores all Christian precepts. One can claim to be, but objectively one is not!
The bottom line is that while Catholics should use their own consciences to make decisions, prudential judgements of individuals on their own situation do not set aside the objective moral order. There is an objective moral order so elusive to many in today’s world who make moral subjectivity one of their new gods together with fake news to boot. Other gods in today’s society which impede the proper formation of a person’s conscience are individualism, secularism and materialism. Catholics for Choice is one such organisation which espouses all these vices and as such cannot claim to speak for Catholics nor well-intentioned people for that matter. They only speak for themselves and their ill-conceived intentions to kill innocent human lives.
It is important that the Church must not only proclaim the objective moral truths, but also attend to how people can experience and be formed by these truths. There has to be a pastoral encounter between the Church and those who are struggling to live the Christian life, finding ways to meet people where they are, help them grow in faith and get closer to God. Part of the mercy of God is helping people slowly learn the truth of their situation in the sight of God and with his grace, take steps to reconcile wrong action or thinking! This is the so-called ‘law of graduality’, meaning that with the support and help of others we can slowly and gradually come to understand the objective truth and what God wants from us even when our lives are nowhere close to this requirement. Then we can slowly start to change our lives around to fall in line with the obligations laid out by the truth. The Church needs to have concrete plans in place to encounter, assist, accompany and form people through a process of discernment to achieve an understanding of the objective truth and to grow in faith even in the midst of their own failures, challenges and hopes.
Meanwhile, the so called ‘Catholics for Choice’ and its political and social lackeys, may continue to subvert the objective truth and lay traps for condescending knaves with the sure knowledge that their game is exposed and that in the final analysis, their efforts will not stand up to right judgement, even if it may seem that they have succeeded!
Dr Asciak is Senior Lecturer II in the Institute of Applied Science at MCAST.