Discerning Pope Francis’ “Obsession?”

Pope Francis’ remarks on the Church and abortion, contraception, and gay marriage—which comprise a handful of sentences in a veryshutterstock_137345084 lengthy interview—are being greeted by the left like a thunder bolt from the heavens, a rising spiritual-cultural tsunami. For secular progressives, the pope’s comments are cause for wondrous elation, a most-assured political game-changer for America, the West, and the wider world. They have dawned a new era in “tolerance” and “change” from Rome and for the planet.

In its early report on the remarks, a breathless New York Times thrilled: “Six months into his papacy, Pope Francis sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic church … with the publication of his remarks that the church had grown ‘obsessed’ with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics.”

For the secular left, the New York Times is daily bread. Give us this day our New York Times. Thus, this report was surely read by millions (it was the first report I read on the pope’s comments) and accepted as gospel truth. It must be taken seriously. And among its words, the word “obsessed” certainly gave me pause. The impact of that one word alone will be enormous.

Of course, to just read the New York Times is calamitous. So, I quickly read the full interview with Pope Francis, posted at America Magazine, the prominent Jesuit publication. In that translation, the pope’s remarks are not nearly as alarming, though they do prompt some concern. Here is the controversial passage: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

That’s the passage in full, uninterrupted. I see the word “obsessed” in there, but not quite the same way the New York Times and other liberal/progressive enthusiasts see it and have run with it full speed, full throttle.

The Times added: “The pope’s interview did not change church doctrine or policies, but it instantly changed its tone. His words evoked gratitude and hope from many liberal Catholics who had felt left out in the cold during the papacies of Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, which together lasted 35 years.”

Here again, I don’t think the Times has this precisely right. The Times was accurate in noting that the pope did not change church doctrine or policies. We should be thankful, I suppose, for that crucial clarification. But did Francis initiate an instant change in tone? Or is such “change” being advanced by secular/left enthusiasts hoping to mold Francis’ papacy into their personal Vatican II?

The Times added this, which is spot-on accurate: “Some lapsed Catholics suggested on social media a return to the church, and leaders of gay rights and gay Catholic groups called on bishops to abandon their fight against gay marriage.”

Of course they did.

Finally, according to the Times, the pope stated: “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time…. We have to find a new balance.”

Here again, though Pope Francis used the word “balance,” I didn’t see it in quite the same way the Times did.

That said, what do we make of these comments by the leader of the world’s largest Church?

Well, that’s just one crucial question. The other equally interesting question is what others will make of these comments.

I’ll begin with my first question:

There’s no doubt that this pope, as he himself acknowledged in the interview, has “not spoken much about these things.” Many of us have certainly noticed. I noticed right away.

As a case in point, indulge me as I share excerpts from an article I wrote last April for a major Catholic publication, but which wasn’t published—and which now makes more sense in light of Pope Francis’ statements:

When I converted to Catholicism eight years ago, one thing that drew me was the Church’s and the pope’s fearless pro-life stance … the papacy’s unrelenting, courageous defense of unborn children. The Death Culture was and is literally killing us, and among all the churches and denominations worldwide, the only one that I could consistently depend upon to speak out against abortion was the Roman Catholic Church. I joined the Church with the assurance that I never needed to worry about a pope who didn’t vocally defend the unborn child….

I could count on the Bishop of Rome condemning this scourge.

The new Bishop of Rome is, of course, Pope Francis. He’s pro-life, too, of course. But liberal Catholics are confident that he’s one of them, and, as such, he will dispense with all this retrograde nonsense about the “Death Culture” that his “conservative” predecessors obsessed over. Will they get their wish? Well, thus far, they have reason for optimism.

The Mass inaugurating Pope Francis’ Petrine ministry occurred March 19, on the solemnity of Saint Joseph. Definite signals would be sent to the world regarding this pope’s interests.

The pope’s homily was thus about Joseph the protector, or, as Pope Francis put it, Joseph “the ‘custos,’ the protector.” Pope Francis began by asking: “The protector of whom?” He noted Mary, Jesus, and the “universal Church.” But he didn’t stop there. Francis then listed many things that Joseph protected and that we should protect. Oddly, however, he never once listed the one thing that Joseph protected first and foremost: the unborn child.

The new pope’s homily underscored the need to protect the environment (twice); the poor (twice); the “weak” or “weakest” (twice); and “creation,” “creatures,” or “created” (eight times). But never the unborn child….

As I listened to his homily, I thought he would mention the unborn in this passage: “Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and our hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are ‘Herods’ who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.”

This was an ideal moment to mention Joseph’s and the Church’s and humanity’s mutual interest in protecting the unborn….

Pope Francis pressed on with more things worthy of protection: “Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political, and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment….”

Here, he singled out “hatred, envy, and pride,” and highlighted yet more things we need to protect against, including “our emotions,” “our hearts,” and “evil intentions.” And still more that need protecting: “the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison.”

But never the unborn child.

This omission is so obvious that it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t intentional….

Of course, I’m sure that Saint Joseph cared about creation and the environment and the poor—as do all of us, conservative Catholics included (despite what liberals say)—but he foremost was concerned about guarding and protecting the unborn child. So, why not a single mention of the unborn child by the new pope?…

Certainly, Pope Francis, who is clearly pro-life, regards the unborn as God’s “creatures” and part of “creation,” and among the “weak” and “vulnerable” needing protection. I don’t doubt that. But the unborn weren’t identified anywhere in this homily, and no doubt to the great pleasure of “pro-choice Catholics” like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. In fact, Pelosi herself, on previous occasions, has publicly invoked the intercession of St. Joseph for all sorts of liberal agenda items, from the environment to Obama-care. But not the unborn. She assiduously avoids the unborn among what she wants St. Joseph to help protect.

If I was Nancy Pelosi or a “pro-choice Catholic,” I would have been doing cartwheels over Pope Francis’ homily: “We got it! A progressive pope! No more of this ‘unborn child’ nonsense!” This is precisely the affirmation they have been seeking.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not questioning whether our new pope is pro-life. But I’ve encountered many pro-life priests who have never dared give a pro-life homily. The results among the laity have been disastrous. What the Church and its leaders choose to emphasize is vital. In the case of the abortion issue, it’s literally a matter of life and death. And this is the worst possible moment for the Bishop of Rome to go silent on the greatest killer of our time.

For Pope Francis, this was just one homily of many to come. But as a first homily, on no less than Saint Joseph, the “custos,” protector of the unborn child, I was very discouraged at what was omitted.

More recently, Pope Francis gave the annual Urbi et Orbi message. This time, the focus wasn’t on St. Joseph, protector of the unborn child. So, the imperative to at least just once mention the unborn child wasn’t as essential. I suppose that’s just as well, because it didn’t happen again.

But the omission, again, wouldn’t be so glaring if not for everything else the new pope mentioned praying for. This time it was “every house and every family,” “hospitals,” “prisons,” “persons,” Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians, Africans, Nigerians, Iraqis, Asians, Koreans, “innocent people,” “human trafficking,” “drug trafficking,” and, overall, “the whole world.” This is far from a complete list….

Francis noted in his Urbi et Orbi message that “we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us,” but he was talking about the environment, about “creation” and “justice,” not the unborn. He mentioned “creation” twice and “justice” twice. More than that, he mentioned “love” and “peace” 14 times each, and “life” nine times, but never unborn life.

An interesting coincidence: In between these two homilies by the new pope, the Urbi et Orbi and St. Joseph message, data was published by Human Life International estimating that there have been 1.72 billion abortions worldwide over the last 40 years. This means, as we already knew, that there has been literally no greater killer on the planet than abortion.…

So far, Pope Francis has mentioned protecting or praying for just about everything on the planet, with nary an animal or blade of grass escaping his purview—with one exception: the unborn.

I hope this silence changes very soon. I’m frankly pretty depressed by how American liberals have run roughshod with abortion legalization, funding, and everything else. The only thing left for me to count on is my universal Roman Catholic Church. If my pope goes silent on this … that would be a disaster.

That was the piece I wrote back in April. It was turned down by an editor after careful consideration and consultation with reviewers. They felt I had jumped the gun. They were right. It was too early for such bold assertions. I thanked them for saving me from myself.

I did, however, publish a very short version (about 340 words) for Catholic Exchange. The reader comments were not kind. I was dismissed by a couple of readers as a mere “conservative” Catholic who was being laughably paranoid and reactionary—and jumping the gun. Perhaps I was.

And so, I began a folder that I’ve been carrying in my briefcase. It is labeled “Pope Francis Pro-Life Statements.” I decided I would collect such statements and write a sort of mea culpa. Unfortunately, that folder remains very thin. I haven’t been able to write that piece. I’ve collected some pro-life actions by Pope Francis, but not many quotations.

My thin folder reflects Francis’ own admission that he hasn’t talked much about these things. (Ironically, within 24 hours of the release of the controversial interview he made a very strong statement against abortion.)

I also, in the interim, wrote a widely read piece on how we need a modern Humanae Vitae on marriage, given the extraordinary surge of “gay marriage.” I said that this particular pope had the unique respect to deliver such a message. The West is absolutely aching for that moral leadership from Rome right now.

But here, too, Pope Francis has said very little, with certainly no encyclical forthcoming. When Protestant friends ask me for evidence of his opposition to gay marriage, I’ve had to refer to statements (very strong ones) he made as a cardinal several years ago—before he was pope.

In short, all of this does indeed seem to suggest at least a change in emphasis by Francis. How could it not? He himself concedes that he hasn’t talked about these issues much.

But here’s the bigger problem: Liberals and liberal Catholics and secular progressives will run hog-wild with Francis’ remarks, exaggerating and exploiting them for their completely contrary ideological, political, and cultural purposes. That loaded word “obsession” will be especially ripe for their abuse.

To that end, unless some clarification or corrective is provided by the Vatican—which, even then, probably would not be sufficient—the progressive left will use these remarks against faithful orthodox Catholics (and their Church) with great emotion, aggressiveness, and militancy.

They believe we’re not only crudely and uncaringly wrong about abortion, gay marriage, and contraception; they believe we’re wrongly obsessed with those issues. Liberal Catholics, in particular, believe that. And they’ve now convinced themselves that the Holy Father himself is in their corner.

Sure, we’ll counter them by carefully re-dissecting and re-presenting the pope’s comments. We will note that the pope himself is pro-life and against gay marriage (or at least he said so before he was pope), and that the Church’s position on these things hasn’t changed—nor has the pope’s. Yet, they’ll counter by insisting, “Yeah, yeah, but you guys are still obsessed with this stuff. Even the pope agrees!” The words are already ringing in my ears: “Quit writing about gay marriage! Even the pope says you’re obsessed with that. Pope Francis says not to judge!”

Those of us who care deeply about these issues will now hear this exact objection unrelentingly. It will be applied to Religious Ed directors who want to deal with these concerns, to leaders of Catholic study groups, to teachers, to public officials, to faithful priests, and on and on. The ripple effect, given how liberals will abuse it, will be intense and long-lasting. Prepare yourself.

Again, the pope hasn’t changed our Church’s teachings. He hasn’t rejected them. But if Pope Francis indeed wants a change in tone and emphasis, well, it has arrived.

Dr. Paul Kengor

By

Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • Terri

    As my two teenagers would say, “Spot on!” For those of us not familiar with this lingo,it means, “you are absolutely right, Dr. Kengor.”

  • Max

    Only “1.72 abortions worldwide over the last 40 years” ? That can’t be right.

  • Therese

    Keep writing. Everyone needs to hear this clarity and truth on the matter. It’s damaging and sad that many of the Pope’s remarks have been vague, weak, and confusing. Oh, how we needed stronger statements about this issues at this time!! JPII started out saying things that were confusing and easily misinterpreted but later strengthened his communication and leadership skills. Hopefully, Pope Francis will do the same. We just can’t afford to have such soft words on these serious issues. Can I say they sound wishy-washy?
    Great job, Mr. Kengor. Thank you.

  • Jennifer

    Amen!

  • catholicexchange

    Thanks for your input and careful eye!

  • Vince Drouillard

    Words matter…and I don’t think we should give up and allow the pundits to misrepresent the Pope. The Pope is not saying we shouldn’t be actively pro-life or pro-marriage in the public sphere…he himself participated in the pro-life march in Rome this summer. I’m surprised Dr. Kengor did not mention that fact. The Pope is saying that we must “lead” with God’s mercy and love. I don’t think that hampers our pro-life cause one iota. I’m concerned with the tone of this article. I think each of us…when we are tempted to question the Popes message, should first prayerfully discern how our own conclusions and motives may be wrong. Otherwise, aren’t we doing essentially what the liberals have done in dismissing JPII and Benedict? I know for myself that I can easily become self-assured and self-righteous in demeanor when representing the pro-life message. Another point…I frankly could care less that liberal Catholics will take this and run with it. In the end, if this causes them to dig deeper into Catholic teaching, perhaps they will change their position….if however they continue in their error…that is their choice. They have been misrepresenting Vatican II for decades…but that doesn’t take away anything from the Truth that the Council has given the Church. The Pope is rocking everyone’s boat (including mine). I love it!

  • Jay

    I posted something similar a few days ago as a response to another blog, so I’m going to be repeating myself…
    Perhaps it would help to think of Francis’ new “tone” in terms of the parable of the prodigal son. You who labor on in the Pro-Life movement need to keep doing that — it’s God’s work and He will reward you. You’re like the dutiful son and you already have His blessing. Francis wants to reach out to the all those drifting about in 21st century secular Europe & America to say “God loves you! Please come home!”; he’s after the prodigal offspring to bring them home, help them find forgiveness, and set them back on the road to God.
    So don’t give up hope, keep doing the Lord’s work, and trust that the Holy Spirit did the right thing in bringing us Francis at this moment in history.

  • Lee

    I shall take it upon myself to pray for Pope Francis. We all need help to do God’s Will.

  • JMC

    While the media is running wild with that “obesession” theme, they’re not as far wrong as I would like to think. I remember hearing sermons back in the late 1960s, when the so-called “sexual revolution” was just getting into full swing, that talked about being “obsessed” with extramarital sex being the only sin. It was true. We tended to condemn the “free love” culture of the hippies, and we stopped thinking about the smaller sins of “white lies,” cheating on our income taxes, being stingy about donating to charities, and all the myriad things we all do without even thinking, which are still sins. It’s still true today. Yes, abortion and the sexual sins are the most glaring faults of our time; indeed, Our Lady of Fatima even said that more souls go to Hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason. But precisely *because* they are the most glaring faults, we are concerned about them almost to the exclusion of anything else. Just a few weeks ago, I heard a sermon in my parish church that illustrated this beautifully. The priest told a story of a child who came into the confessional upset about having committed a horrible sin. When the priest finally calmed the child enough that he could tell what it was he had done, it was that he had seen a classmate upset about something and had done nothing to comfort him. He went on to explain how, while abortion and unbridled sex are indeed grave sins, there are others that, while not mortal, may be more important to the human person. He talked about how we must learn to “be Christ” for others. Christ’s approach to sinners was an inviting one, condemnatory only in a few instances (the moneychangers at the Temple; the Pharisees in general).
    So, in the end, I think Pope Francis is right. There are other problems in the world we need to address. We need to guard ourselves against being judgmental. As I pointed out in a comment to another article, this means discerning what “being judgmental” truly means. It does NOT mean pointing out a person’s sin; that is the spiritual work of mercy called “admonishing the sinner.” It DOES mean doing so without condemning the person, and that’s not an easy thing to do. And I think that’s what Pope Francis meant when he said it “wasn’t for him to judge.”

  • Dessy12

    Thank you for this terrific column. The liberal Catholics in my parish are delighted by
    Pope Francis’ remarks. I would like to ask him how the Church cannot be obsessive in arguing against intrinsic evils such such as abortion. Indeed, the only thing my parish is obsessive about is the materially poor. Thanks to the new Pope, now we’ll never hear any homilies on Church doctrine from the pulpit !

  • Zak

    Dr. Kengor, thank you for your article. It expresses my own feeling as well. We must always remember that at certain points in history we have had a misguided or even bad Pope. Papal infallibility does not apply to off cuff comments or to personal lifestyle – only to doctrinal matters and teaching of faith and morals. At times in the past when this has occurred, there is often another bishop, ruler, or layperson that rises up within the Church to stand for the Faith, when the Holy Father may fall short in his own personal life. Let us pray for Pope Francis – and for the Church as a whole – for what tribulations may lie ahead.

  • jenny

    Yes, the article says that the Pope did not mention the word “unborn” – and that is true; the word ” unborn” , in the context of abortion, is not mentioned.
    Otherwise, why would we bother about the unborn, if not in the context of abortion ? Aren’t the unborn(s) well and safe in the womb , where the father place them? Yes, the father places his child in the womb of the woman, and the woman carries “their” child, I mean, the child that belong to both the mother and the father….
    But here is my point: the Pope does not mention either the killing of the unborn child through starvation and lack of emotional/medical care.
    Or how do you call the sin of the father who kills his child after he places her/he in the womb? Is it abortion too ?
    So, if we expect the Pope to mention “unborn” children, we surely should expect the Pope to mention father’s sin of killing his unborn child…..= male abortion.
    Just wonder if a man would wake up one month later just to discover that he is pregnant, while the mother is no where to be found?

  • carole

    Thank you for such a deliberate article. Your position is rightly taken. I cannot help but reflect that Pope Francis’ “interview” was put out in all the October Issues of Jesuits Magazines. October is Pro Life Month which is well known. There couldn’t be a worse time to print that article which is circulating worldwide just as Pro Life Forces being their lively push against worldwide abortion.

  • jenny

    ..or maybe Pope’s interview came right in time for October’s Pro Life Forces : when the Pope says that we “cannot insist only on issues related to abortion “, I think that he wants Pro Life forces and all of us to insist also on the CAUSE of abortion.
    And what is usually the main cause of abortion? ..it is the fathers decision to kill their unborn children they, the fathers, just placed din the womb of the mother (“the seed of life”) .
    How does this killing happen? …through starvation, lack of emotional/medical care …. We agree at least that an unborn child needs food, medication, emotional care, etc,… otherwise the unborn child dies. and who is the killer? Who is supposed to bring all the life necessities to the unborn child? …
    the FATHER…….

  • jenny

    I would think that we will finally hear more about the cause of abortion , the cause of contraception, etc…. because now we hardly hear about the cause of these….

  • jenny

    I would think that we will finally hear more about the cause of abortion , the cause of contraception, etc…. because now we hardly hear about the cause of these….

  • DeadWhiteMan

    Sorry, Jenny, but men have no say in our nation in whether a child is brought to term or not. Interestingly, though, he’s still held 50% responsible for the child if the child is born, even though he had 0% say in whether it would be.

    I do get your point about emotional support and what not, but the fact remains that fathers have been reduced by law to second class citizens.

  • DeadWhiteMan

    It seems like you’re trying to dodge the issue.

  • jenny

    Sorry DeadWhiteMan, if I was too harsh in my comment…..I just said a short prayer to Saint Michael to ease any hurt I may have caused with my comment – but I do not see how come a man does not have a say about his unborn child. Are you talking about a pretty normal family, or about a temporary relationship between 2 less mature people ?

  • DeadWhiteMan

    That’s okay. No apology is necessary. I was referring to a matter of fact and law. If a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock, under the law the man has NO say in whether or not she will have an abortion. If she wants to have one, there’s nothing the man can do about it. He does not even have a 50% say.

  • Carlos

    Dr. Kengor

    Por favor no se desespere, el Papa Francisco es PRO-VIDA

    20.09.2013 | “Todo niño condenado a ser abortado tiene el rostro de Jesucristo”, expresó durante una audiencia con ginecólogos católicos. Exhortó a los médicos a ir contra la corriente y defender el valor de la vida.”

    http://www.laprensa.com.ar/413310-Francisco-ratifico-la-condena-al-aborto.note.aspx

    ——————————————————————————————————–

    En un libro editado en Buenos Aires hace tres años se puede leer.

    Bergoglio: El problema moral del aborto es de naturaleza prerreligiosa porque en en el momento de la concepción está el código genético de la persona. Ahí ya hay un ser humano.

    Separo el tema del aborto de cualquier concepción religiosa. Es un problema científico. No dejar que se siga avanzando en el desarrollo de un ser que ya tiene todo el código genético de un ser humano no es ético.

    El derecho a la vida es el primero de los derechos humanos. Abortar es matar a quién no puede defenderse.

    “SOBRE EL CIELO Y LA TIERRA”

    By Jorge Bergoglio y Abraham Skorka – Ed. Sudamericana. 2010

    Cap.14 – Sobre el aborto

    ——————————————————————————————————-

    Amigo deje que los abortistas y “demás grupos” sigan hablando, es lo único que podrán hacer con este Papa.

    Que Dios Ntro.Señor y Maria lo bendigan.

    PD. Sepa disculpar no escribir en su idioma.

  • Cathy Donnellon

    I am saddened that you and so many are missing the larger point which Pope Francis is trying to convey by his words and actions. And I’m talking now about “conservatives”, not the liberals who take his words to embolden their stance. Just as Jesus did in His day… he turned everything on its head and left the religious people of the day up in arms. So with Pope Francis today. I love this Pope (and I am not a liberal).

  • Blake

    You do, in a sense, appear to be somewhat obsessed with abortion. Please do not take that with the slightest inkling of judgement or ridicule, as I found this piece interesting and simply desire to comment. Pope Francis has been a truly remarkable figure to watch develop in the public’s eye. As a former atheist turned non-religious believer (in some type of omnipotent deity), I myself am finding the Catholic Church more attractive by the day as a result of his actions. I believe the Pope deemphasized these topics for a reason; “hot button” issues such as abortion tend to take one’s sight off of the situation at hand. Francis, at least from what I have observed, has breathed life back into this church. He appears to practice what he preaches, which is good will and brotherly love; harping on abortion and gay marriage will not help this church. It spotlights sinners (and is probably ineffectual in dissuading) From my simple understanding (forgive me if I am wrong) a sin is a sin.
    Would one expect Francis to Harp on thievery? No, and why would we? Stealing is a sin just as lying is a sin, both of which are sins in the exact same way as abortion and gay marriage. It is very hard for me to understand the position of someone opposed to Francis, even a staunchly conservative Catholic. The bottom line equates to an increasing number of people coming back to Church; Francis’ teachings are getting people excited about Christianity. Now, even from a very conservative catholic background, that has to be a good thing. Yet, even though Francis prayed for the protection of ALL living things, it appears you’ve dialed in on this one particular aspect of his work as though it is the making or breaking of his papacy.
    This Pope does truly appear to be what I expect Christ must have been like; a real champion of the poor, the downtrodden, the drunkards, perhaps even the homosexual (or maybe even a woman whom received an abortion). These are the stigmatized of our society, and the fact that your pope is out on the streets shaking hands and holding these people (face to face no less) is simply wonderful. It is in stark contrast with the church I’ve known growing up.
    Now, please please do not take what I am about to say as offensive. If you do, I am sorry, but I am simply inquisitive and hoping to offer an outsiders view. Though I do not hold these views personally, I understand that topics like abortion can be very trying emotionally. My view has always been a biological one (as I am a biologist); an unborn child will have no collective conscious or memory of existence prior to abortion, nor pain, nor poverty nor suffering. It is simply as it is, nonexistence and passage to what I believe must be a better world. Though I do have my opinions on the woman’s choice, my thoughts and advocations for the use of abortive procedures exists more for the child. This world is rife with suffering, and we are already facing population problems. If the human species is not wiped out before hand, we as a society will one day have to employ mass mandated birth control. Thomas Malthus wrote some words on this subject which I feel were well ahead of his time; as more and more people come onto this planet, the numbers simply do not add up. There becomes a point, as seen in many now extinct species, were overpopulation based burdens reach the tipping point and humanity either evolves (quickly) or is wiped out. You may call this judgement day; to me, it will be the day that the nature reclaims the ecosystem we have so willingly destroyed (through, largely, overpopulation oddly enough).
    I may procreate, or I may not; but either way it will be but one child. Why? Well, for many reasons. First, life is full of strife; I know that beauty exists in the storm but our existence is not an easy one. Second? Overpopulation and a serious looming crisis on the horizon. Take those 1.72 billion aborted children you reference over the past 40 years and add them to the worlds current population (7.046 billion). You come to 8.766 billion. Another forty years (not including normal population growth) will give us around 10.5 billion. Another forty? 12.2 billion people. If you continue to follow this simple logic, it quickly begins to spell trouble for our species. Overpopulation is not damning in of itself; technology has and will continue to meet this world’s challenges. Yet, in a society where we are starting from behind the bell curve with increasingly limited resources (along with decreasing emphasis on science in education), counting on technology to develop in sanitation and food and such is not a solid plan. I do hope you understand that I sympathize with the fact that these issues are of extreme importance to you, and I hope you know that I am not dismissing or laughing at them. I truly do respect the views you have, and understand that any policy concerning pop control would (at least I think) go against Catholicism. My real hope is that I am wrong, and that we adapt to increasing strain.
    Yet, all that ranting was off topic; my final point is that I like this Pope. I feel as though I understand him, and the kind of heart he has. How on earth he wound up with the papacy inspite of the Vatican’s apparently toxic environment is beyond me, but I am glad he did. Hopefully, he will remain true to his current path of championing for those without a champion, standing for those too sick or poor to stand on their own. I believe that Christ would have been all about that; I seriously doubt that JC would gaze at the Vatican, in its splendid and exquisitely rich tastes, and be impressed. On the alternative (though I probably should not gander at how a deity would think), I imagine he would have denounced such wealth. But hey, I’ve been wrong before; I very well could be wrong here. Have a good one!

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