The Name Game

I recently asked readers of Today’s Catholic Woman if their shopping preference was via the Internet or to drive to a store .  I admitted that I did do some shopping through the Internet but mostly I tended to make my purchases at stores.  That changed this past week as a number of personal circumstances forced me to armchair shop for a few things I wanted for my home in preparation for an upcoming party.  Mostly I was looking for a couple of fun, new pieces to put on my fireplace mantle in an effort to spruce it up.

So it was that I sat down and began my shopping at a popular Internet store.  I wanted a couple of unique pieces for my mantle so I typed “knick-knacks” in the search line of the site.  The results were anything other than what I expected and I laughed out loud at what was considered “knick-knacks.”  There were lots of children’s books, some shoes, a door knocker, and a dusting mitt.

Interesting, I thought, as I tried to figure out what word or words I was supposed to be using to do my search.  After a couple of lame attempts I decided that a better strategy would be to go through the links offered and so I began.  Ultimately, success was had by selecting home and then décor and then decorative accessories. I was impressed. “Decorative Accessories” was so much more pleasant sounding than “knick-knacks” and, I’m sure, allowed the price to reflect the elegance of the phrase.

Later that day I listened to a news report that said President Obama would no longer be using the phrase “war on terror” when speaking about our, well, war on terror. Apparently the whole knick-knack-decorative-accessory-name-change thing is quite popular indeed!

Similarly, I then heard that President Obama won’t call the atrocities suffered by hundreds of thousands of Armenians “genocide.”  Certainly — the Obama team must be thinking — there is something more palatable to call this time in history when more than a million people of one ethnic group were slaughtered.  Admittedly, nothing comes to my mind, though.

I, obviously, went to school before political correctness was “in,” while genocide was still called “genocide.”  I guess we’ll have to see what team Obama comes up with.  Maybe they’ll be able to get the big publishing houses to change the dictionary definition of genocide as well.  I’m sure many school books have already been taken care of.

The Catholic Church is not exempt from the attempted efforts of many of these “forward thinking, progressives” who won’t rest until some of their own name-changing initiatives have taken place within the Church, beginning at the pew level.  They — who aspire to bring the Catholic Church into the wonderful 21st century where everything goes — want the vulgar realties of abortion to be hidden away in words, phrases, and deceptions that are crouched in euphemisms like “choice” and “reproductive rights.”

There are, however, real consequences that occur when such liberties are taken with words.  For Catholics, the consequences can be eternal.

Let’s take a reality check.

By sugar-coating things we don’t change what they are; we only fool ourselves.  After all, you can call a knick-knack a “decorative accessory” all you want but in the end it is a doodad that sits around for a season and then ends up getting replaced with another doodad.

You can call abortion “choice” or “reproductive rights” or just another “social justice issue” but in the end a baby is still dead.  Consider how the Vatican has quietly but firmly rejected the suggested Obama embassy appointments .  An abortion advocate cannot be packaged in any way to become acceptable as an ambassador to the Vatican.

Easter brought many Catechumens into Mother Church with baptism but this, we believe as Catholics, is really only the first step on the path towards salvation.  Yes, we fully follow the teachings of Scripture that proclaim our salvation in Jesus but we also believe that our earthly journey matters.  It makes a difference.  It counts.

Being fully aware of our fallen nature should put us in constant “salvation” mode.  We ought to take seriously the fact that each morning, when our feet hit the ground, is a chance for us to jeopardize our eternal life.  In other words, we do not — and should never — take our salvation for granted.

So, when we have Catholics who are public figures and are vocal and wrong in what they say and do as Catholics, many more are in jeopardy of being lead to wrong thinking, too.  But who will pay the price?  And how steep will the price be?

Nancy Pelosi met with our Pope.  She did not leave that meeting proclaiming her new understanding of the life issue and that abortion is murder.  Here is a woman who met with the Pope and continued on her merry way as a Catholic behaving badly.

In some ways I almost admired her chutzpah.  Can you imagine being so confident — or would the correct word be arrogant? — in how your conscience has formed that even the head of your Catholic Church, the Vicar of Christ, the successor to Peter,  makes no impact on your thinking in regards to matters that are his to teach?  Isn’t that like going to a heart surgeon who tells you that you need bypass surgery and you turn around and tell him that the real answer is more eggs and bacon?  Who would do that?

Catholics who boldly argue with Church teachings aren’t flexing their free wills.  When God said, in Deuteronomy 30:19b, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse,” He didn’t stop there.  He followed by saying, “Choose life.”  He then went on to say that all sorts of good things happen when we choose life, the least of which are the blessings that will be for our future generations.  Are we now — in our economy and in our world circumstances — experiencing the results of choosing death?

When Catholics use their free will to complete that God-given choice in Deuteronomy by supporting abortion, they may very well be jeopardizing their eternal life.  They are making bad decisions based upon poorly formed consciences.  These are Catholics who erroneously — and sadly — believe that a person’s conscience can be formed without graces, sacraments, or Church teachings.

These are the Catholics who choose euphemisms for abortion.  But a Catholic who continues to play the name-change game is putting him or herself in grave eternal peril.

Murder is murder.  It simply can’t be prettied up or spun any other way — regardless of how well world leaders, Catholic and otherwise, are able to do just that.

Indeed, the name-change game may allow a few Catholics to fool themselves some of the time, and other Catholics to fool themselves all of the time, but please don’t kid yourself into thinking that any Catholics are fooling God even one bit of the time.

Cheryl Dickow


Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Claire

    Right on, Cheryl! The sugar-coating, semantics games need to stop, particularly regarding abortion.

  • I am reminded of the time during the Clinton administration when the Rwandan genocide was going on. Administration officials refused to term the catastrophe a “genocide,” and instead referred only to “acts of genocide,” as if that were somehow a lesser category. It’s not just government officials with an agenda who do this though; as Cheryl pointed out, we’re all susceptible to “redefining” sin as a “problem” to be worked out or as an “issue” or a “personality defect” or even a “disease” that needs therapy. To paraphrase St. Benedict, we all need to keep our deaths constantly before us so that we are ready when the time comes. This is not morbid, just real.

  • momof5

    Well said Cheryl. I have to wonder about all the name changes. It’s all an illusion, as you said “murder is murder” any way you spin it. Are they trying to fool themselves…or just everyone else?

    It still blows my mind that Nancy P can go be with the Pope and not undergo a radical change of heart…although God does work in His own perfect time so here’s hoping!


  • Liz

    I am hopeful to see others who understand the importance of words. What ever happened to calling a spade a spade? I thought the example PrairieHawk gave concerning the “acts of genocide” as opposed to “genocide” was so good. So if I just commit an “act of murder” as opposed to committing murder am I not going to be held as guilty? It would be laughable if it weren’t so scary. One can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

    But here’s to hope in Christ who dwells in all of us. Thanks to Ms. Dickow and all of you out there who give me hope for humanity. Mother Mary clothed in our Lord Jesus Christ, pray for us.


  • Warren Jewell

    One can only shake one’s head that ‘devout pro-lifer’ now is ‘enemy of the state’. (Though, real enemies of the state get a bye, it seems.) All these euphemisms and hiding of follies is so mendacious, and make so many into unconscious sinners.

    The masterly messiah and his minions – no apostles, they – has proved to be clueless, sophistic and silly. And, that is a more or less the ‘more innocuous’ tip of the iceberg.