Recently, a powerful letter from a grassroots Catholic pro-lifer, Gregory Gollnick, came to my personal attention. I reviewed what he opined in his letter and asked for his permission to share it in this commentary.
I have added information here and there to flesh out Gollnick’s message. By and large, however, he has really put into proper perspective the entire matter of how we have reached this crisis in America.
The abortion debate has been going on for many years now. Unfortunately, I believe the Catholic Church in America inadvertently had a great deal to do with setting the stage for the passing of Roe v. Wade /Doe v. Bolton and also has been guilty of actions that have made the repeal of this law so difficult.
When Pope Paul VI signed Humanae Vitae , the reaction by a great number of Catholic priests and theologians was signed protests that appeared in prominent newspapers the following day.
Here it is incumbent upon me to add to Gollnick’s analysis, because of the fact that James Cardinal Stafford knows the facts about this firestorm from the inside. In his remarkable reflection on how the dissent affected holy priests and the Church (“In 1968, something terrible happened in the Church”), Cardinal Stafford pulls no punches. One of the most powerful portions of his article concerns his own ecclesial superior at the time, Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, the sixth archbishop of Baltimore. As Cardinal Stafford relates it, Cardinal Shehan, in his memoirs, recalled,
[A]fter receiving the first news of the publication of the encyclical, the Rev. Charles E. Curran, instructor of moral theology of the Catholic University of America, flew back to Washington from the West where he had been staying. Late [on the afternoon of July 29], he and nine other professors of theology of the Catholic University met, by evident prearrangement, in Caldwell Hall to receive, again by prearrangement with the Washington Post , the encyclical, part by part, as it came from the press. The story further indicated that by nine o’clock that night, they had received the whole encyclical, had read it, had analyzed it, criticized it, and had composed their six-hundred-word “Statement of Dissent.”
Then they began that long series of telephone calls to “theologians” throughout the East, which went on, according to the Post , until 3:30 a.m., seeking authorization to attach their names as endorsers (signers was the term used) of the statement, although those to whom they had telephoned could not have had an opportunity to see either the encyclical or their statement. Meanwhile, they had arranged through one of the local television stations to have the statement broadcast that night.
…The first thing that we have to note about the whole performance is this: so far as I have been able to discern, never in the recorded history of the Church has a solemn proclamation of a pope been received by any group of Catholic people with so much disrespect and contempt.
In his article, Cardinal Stafford affirms Gollnick’s premise.
I believe this sign of revolt by many in the American Church was one of the signals that paved the way for the passing of Roe v. Wade /Doe v. Bolton shortly afterwards. This catastrophic mistake was never acknowledged or regretted by the signers, with the exception of one lone voice who wrote to Father Tom Euteneuer , sharing his sorrow over what he had done.
Later, the Catholic Church was involved in a sex scandal that went on for years before it was even acknowledged by Church authorities. Then, a painful and hurtful charade was carried on before our eyes that tried to minimize the massive extent of this scandal to the Church and deny the homosexual nature of the scandal, which was exposed in the bishops’ own report . Over two billion dollars later, the pathetic attempt to deny the truth to the nation and to its own embarrassed laity has failed.
The result of this is that no amount of protest by the official Catholic Church will convince anyone, because the credibility the Church once had was completely destroyed. Still, many Catholics continue to protest against abortion and are the heart of the anti-abortion movement, even though they have the albatross of their Church’s scandal around their necks.
Since the practice of abortion has gone on for so long now, I believe a shift or change in some of the language we use might help to make points that will be useful at this time. I have included three points for your thoughts.
- Racism is one of the main results of abortion. In the United States, at least 30 to 40 percent of abortions are committed on Black babies. This is from a population that comprises 13 to 15 percent of the U.S. female population aged 15–44, and it means that the rate of abortion in the Black community is two to three times greater than its percentage of the population would suggest. Now President Obama has extended the reach of U.S. involvement in abortion to the entire world with one of his first acts upon becoming president. Africa is, of course, one of the prime targets. The irony is intense, as President Obama has become the most dangerous man in the world for the Black community.
- Sexism is another of the most dangerous results of the abortion industry. Especially in the Far East, boys are preferred to girls as the child of choice. This is because of cultural preferences and governmental policies that intrude into the private decisions of families. As a result, there are tens of millions more babies in China and India that are male than female, and the countries either deny it is happening or say they can’t understand why this would occur. This male preference is starting to spread to other parts of the world, and the imbalance between living baby boys and living baby girls is growing. A science fiction book is begging to be written.
- Cruelty is becoming even more commonplace in the world. What could be crueler than murdering a helpless and innocent person in a place that should be the safest place in the world for a preborn baby, a mother’s womb? Yet the abortion clinics are readily available in Western cultures and are being promoted vigorously throughout the world by United Nations agencies and with U.S. money. And cruelty and horror slip into our world, in the culture and lives of all citizens, and people wonder why.
In closing, I ask where are the protests that one should expect from those organizations that seem to catch every word that has racist or sexist connotations? And what about the uproar caused by every incident of discrimination that occurs in the workplace or in public? I guess that murder doesn’t seem to measure up to these types of occurrences.
And why don’t people seem to notice the horror of over one million surgical abortions every year in the United States? I believe our capacity to judge ourselves as civilized people has been impaired by the concessions we have made to the truth and to our language, as we have tried to come to grips with the awful facts and implications of the regularization of abortion in our land. And we are not going to get better until the truth is recognized and abortion is acknowledged as the evil it is and banned once again, by an informed conscience, from our land.
Mr. Gollnick has written one of the most thought-provoking commentaries we have seen in quite some time. We hope it spurs you to rethink the status quo and challenge it daily. Each of us is putty in the hands of God, and each of us has the potential, with His grace, to make a difference. Mr. Gollnick did that for me today. What are his words going to inspire you to do?
Every human being’s life is precious, so let’s act like it, today and every day. Thank you, Mr. Gollnick!