Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Richard John Neuhaus: The Public Square

[This blurb originally appeared in Neuhaus' column 'The Public Square' in the November 2004 issue of First Things magazine..."More than one authentically Catholic position on abortion"?!?...ridiculous. Such silliness should not be tolerated...unfortunately, such silliness manifests itself everywhere I turn. - jtf]

When the Catholic Church says something is a “scandal,” the reference is not to bad publicity but to endangering the souls of others. Here’s the official definition: “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense” (Catechism A4 2284). Hence the concern about politicians who publicly and persistently support the abortion license.

But what about nuns? Twenty years ago, on Respect Life Sunday, twenty-six nuns signed a full-page ad in the New York Times declaring that there is more than one authentically Catholic position on abortion. The Vatican got on the case and notified their superiors that the nuns must retract or face expulsion from their orders. Dominican Sister Donna Quinn was one of the signers. Twenty years later she says, “We held firm. The Vatican backed off actually, but they’ll never admit it.” Quinn, along with four other nuns, marched in last April’s raucous “March for Women’s Lives” in Washington. Ann Carey of Our Sunday Visitor notes also that the National Coalition of American Nuns gave its “national medal of honor” to Francis Kissling, founder of Catholics for Free Choice. Ms. Carey is puzzled that these nuns seem to have an untroubled relationship with their orders and with the Church at a time when bishops are trying to clarify the meaning of communio and Communion. Ms. Carey is not alone.

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