Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Sunday Visitor's Backhanded Bollocks

My folks are Catholic and I'm over at their house fairly frequently. That means I get the pleasure of leafing through a new edition Our Sunday Visitor, a Catholic newspaper my dad subscribes to, pretty much every week. The current (June 14) edition had an interesting story about how the the combination of high rates of attrition low rates of conversion has begun to erode church membership, written nominally search for a reason for this trend. What really caught my attention though was the weekly editorial, entitled Tiller's Killer.

In case you've been living under a rock for the last two weeks, George Tiller was a doctor who performed late abortions in response to cases of severe fetal malformation and/or serious risk to the life of the mother. On May 31, he was assassinated by Scott Roeder, a "pro-life activist", while serving as an usher at his church.

Every political pundit and blogger out there has weighed in on the killing, so naturally OSV had something to say about it. Given the anti-abortion, anti-death penalty stance of the Catholic Church, I would have assumed that the OSV editorial would have been a harsh condemnation of Roeder's actions and a call to legislative action rather than murder as a means of fighting abortion. I would have assumed wrong. Here's what the editorial actually said:
Scott Roeder took aim at an abortionist and succeeded in putting a bullet in the pro-life movement. And it couldn't have come at a worse time...
Now his slaying has transformed him into a martyr for the cause of abortion "rights," and has smeared by extension all those dedicated to defense of unborn human life...
The timing of Tiller's killing is particularly awful. A Gallup poll in May found that for the first time a majority of Americans consider themselves "pro-life." This murder will do little to further draw hearts and minds to the pro-life cause...
I honestly don't like using that many ellipses, so I suggest you read the whole article. And, to be fair, the second-to-last sentence of the editorial does refer to the murder as "a tragic crime", but I don't think I've ever seen a more backhanded way of denouncing someone's murder. "Oh no, a doctor was assassinated by a lone wolf whacko...and with such inconvenient timing, too." Jeeze.

There's plenty of room for legitimate debate about abortion, and frankly I've never been entirely satisfied with the "right to privacy" argument so often articulated by the pro-choice crowd. That being said, I'm flabbergasted that an editorial from a "pro-life" source was only able to muster so pusillanimous a condemnation of murder as "the timing was bad." Add to that all the sanctimonious comments on tacked onto the online version of the article and I think we may have at least part of an explanation for why people are leaving the church.

1 comment:

Jay said...

It's an awkward irony that the extreme "pro-life" camp appears to think that murder is a reasonable course of action to bring attention to their views.

The late term abortions that Tiller performed are more often than not performed in cases of severe developmental anomalies, like anencephaly, where the chances of survival for the fetus are near zero.

Abortion is a topic that does not lend itself to a one-size-fits-all answer, and it's rarely as cut-and-dried a choice as the extreme positions on either side of the matter would have people believe.