The ranking of evil

Dr. Mary Gatter, council president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Directors – in the business of trading body parts

Here’s a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There’s a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide. Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence. The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that.

These are the words of Archbishop Charles Chaput in his diocesan website this week. They are help-ful, very helpful. With a bit of luck they will help clear the muddled minds of those who see something evil but fail to recognise it as such because a politically correct world’s group think has clouded their vision.

Archbishop Chaput is asking Catholics to reaffirm their commitment to their Church’s social teaching, “a seamless garment of respect for human life, from conception to natural death”. It makes no sense, he says, to champion the cause of unborn children if we ignore their basic needs once they’re born. Thus it’s no surprise that – year in and year out – nearly all Catholic dioceses in the United States… devote far more time, personnel and material resources to providing social services to the poor and education to young people than to opposing abortion.

But that does not mean that objectively and on the scale of personal wilfulness there is not a ranking of evil which every person has to attend to. “Children need to survive the womb before they can have needs like food, shelter, immigration counselling and good health care. Humanity’s priority right – the one that undergirds all other rights – is the right to life.” He quotes the American bishops of 1998:

“Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care . . . But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.

“Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ — the living house of God — then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house.

“All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right — the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand.”

Chaput attacks the double-thing of those who say that abortion is mainly a cultural and moral issue, and politics is a poor solution to the problem. He finds it curious that some of the same voices that argue against political action on the abortion issue seem quite comfortable urging vigorous political engagement on issues like health care, homelessness and the environment. He defines politics in practice, as the application of moral conviction to public discourse and the process of lawmaking.

“Law not only constrains and defends; it also teaches and forms. Law not only reflects culture; it shapes and reshapes it. That’s why Christians can’t avoid political engagement. Politics is never the main content of Christian faith. It can never provide perfect solutions. But no Christian can avoid the duty to work for more justice and charity in our life as a nation, a task that inescapably involves politics. Thus the recent Senate vote to defund Planned Parenthood was not only right and timely, but necessary. And the failure of that measure involves a public failure of character by every Catholic senator who voted against it.”

He closes with a word of thanks to Ruben Navarette, Jr. Navarette is a veteran “pro-choice” voice, but in his August 10 column at the Daily Beast he expresses his revulsion at the whole, ugly, system-wide barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s fetal trafficking. Chaput thinks his column’s best lines come in quoting his prolife wife:

Those are babies that are being killed. Millions of them. And you need to use your voice to protect them. That’s what a man does. He protects children – his own children, and other children. That’s what it means to be a man.

Here is the latest video released by the Center For Medical Progress after after its 3-year investigation into Planned Parenthood:

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