40 yrs post Roe V Wade

01-13-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

During the "Fiscal Cliff" debates Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated on the Senate floor that House Speaker John Boehner was running a "dictatorship" and cared more about retaining his Speaker position than the American people. This apparently inspired Speaker Boehner to tell Senator Reid to "go #$@% himself". Just the latest in the bloodletting sport of politics.

Senator Reid you may recall also on the Senate floor stated gleefully that "word on the street is that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for the last ten years." That's usually called gossip but I guess in this case it was a campaign speech. Later during the presidential campaign, Sen. Reid also felt it necessary to tell us that Mitt Romney "is not the face of Mormonism" and that Romney has "sullied" the Latter Day Saints faith. Well I don't know if Mitt Romney is the poster child for Mormonism but I was surprised to see Reid, also a Mormon taking a swipe at a fellow Mormon. By and large Mormons are rather quiet about internal disagreements or criticizing one another and tend not to air their dirty laundry unlike, say Catholics. The remark passed without much media scrutiny. But I wonder what if vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a Catholic had said that Vice President Joe Biden "was not the face of Catholicism" or that he had "sullied" the Catholic faith, what would the reaction be? I am sure all hell would break loose: "how dare Ryan judge Biden's faith" etc. And if Ryan had said that, and he did not, he would have been on solid ground. This was evidenced during the Vice Presidential debate when the two were asked about their position on abortion. Biden basically answered the question by saying that as a Catholic it is wrong for me but I would not impose that on anyone else.

Really? How can that be? How is a moral truth a truth for one person and not another? Or how is it wrong for me but not for you? Would we hold that incoherent logic on any other moral issue? While its wrong for me to commit homicide, I won't impose that on you? Or I believe it's wrong for me to commit adultery but it's good for you? This break down in moral reasoning has been directly caused by the legalization of abortion. Furthermore, if you really believe something is morally wrong for you and that it has serious consequences how much are you really loving your neighbor by telling them that the same behavior that is harmful to you is perfectly fine for them?

This bifurcated logic is the result of the tortured reasoning in Roe v. Wade. For the past 40yrs now our moral thinking has been influenced by the idea that moral choices are all private choices and there can be no claim to absolute truth. Which gives us a relativistic outlook: it is morally wrong for one but not another. My truth is not necessarily your truth which means there is no truth. This is called skepticism which in the end leads to despair. And the signs of a despairing, depressed culture are all around us.

Then there's this: after the vote on raising taxes one Democratic official who voted in favor of raising taxes despite the fact that higher taxes would greatly impact many of the constituents of his wealthy district, said in his own defense, "that sometimes you have to refrain from just voting politics and vote your conscience"! However if the issue had been abortion and the congressman voted his pro-life conscience he would be accused of imposing his values on others. Hence claims to conscience are only legitimate when they cover issues other than abortion. Just another way that Roe v. Wade has convoluted our moral reasoning and caused us to stand athwart the very structures of moral logic itself.

This is what Pope Benedict has termed the "Dictatorship of Relativism" where every value is relative to every other value and no value is absolute except only that there is absolutely no absolutes. A just society is founded on certain moral truths. But those moral truths cannot be guaranteed by the state but only by God the Creator as only God can guarantee the dignity and equality of each human being. A healthy democracy, accordingly, must operate within this moral and spiritual framework, or it will devolve in short order into something at the very least dysfunctional or at worst tyrannical. The crisis of faith that so marks our age and leads to skepticism is at the heart of the collapse of our moral reasoning. Only by recovering a vibrant and healthy belief in God can our age restore its logic and be worthy of being called a just society.

Love, Fr. John B.