Why Pro-Life Progressives Are Pro-Life

via Kristen Day:

Pro-life Democrats oppose abortion because we believe that it constitutes the direct taking of innocent human life. We see it as a violation of human rights, as something that is incompatible with social justice, and as an unjust alternative to delivering social justice to poor and working-class women, men, and families.

These are social concerns. Abortion is not simply a matter of individual morality. It is not comparable to Catholics abstaining from meat during Lent or Muslims fasting during Ramadan. For many opponents of abortion, particularly for those pro-life millennials who are not members of any organized religion, abortion is not a religious issue at all.

And for those who are religious, it is a social issue in the same way that various social causes were for religious abolitionists, suffragists, reformers, and Civil Rights Movement leaders and activists.

For someone who is pro-life, it makes no sense to value one’s own child but not one’s neighbor’s child or the child of a poor single mother across town. It makes no sense to abhor violence against some unborn children but to look the other way when the lives of other children are extinguished.

Is someone a good neighbor if she keeps her own kids safe from cars but says nothing as a neighbor’s child recklessly darts in and out of a busy street? Is someone really a progressive if he keeps his own kids safe from abusing drugs but is wholly indifferent to an opioid crisis that destroys more and more lives? Is someone a good person if she or he would never own a slave, but refuses to impose that moral conviction on others who exploit people through the trafficking of human beings?

The purpose of law is to enforce our understanding of what is good for society — what helps people to flourish, what keeps them safe, what keeps them from being able to freely harm others. This is why we support everything from progressive taxation to a social safety net to laws against drunk driving.

Trump’s Cut in Refugee Admissions is Disturbing and Deeply Disappointing

The US Bishops are disturbed and deeply disappointed by the Trump administration’s decision to only admit up to 45,000 refugees:

In September 27, 2017, the Administration, in a consultation with Congress, proposed to only admit up to 45,000 refugees to the United States in fiscal year 2018. This Presidential Determination (PD) for Refugee Admissions is the lowest since the founding of the program in 1980 and marks the second consecutive year that the new Administration has reduced the PD. Currently there are 65 million displaced people and 22 million refugees worldwide.

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“We are disturbed and deeply disappointed by the proposed Presidential Determination number of 45,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. While the Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, and Catholic communities across the country join in welcoming all of those refugees to American communities with joy and open arms, we are gravely concerned for the tens of thousands of extremely vulnerable refugees left behind by this decision.

“As I have stated before, this decision has very severe human consequences—people with faces, names, children and families are suffering and cannot safely or humanely remain where they are until the war and persecution in their countries of origin gets resolved. These people include at-risk women and children; frightened youth; the elderly; those whose lives are threatened because of their religion, ethnicity or race; and refugees seeking family reunification with loved ones in the United States.

“Each refugee that comes to the United States is admitted through an extensive vetting system. Many of these refugees already have family in the United States, and most begin working immediately to rebuild their lives; in turn contributing to the strength and richness of our society. God has blessed our country with bounty and precious liberty, and so we have great capacity to welcome those in such desperate need, while ensuring our nation’s security….

Looking ahead, we strongly urge the Administration next year to return to the level of resettling at least 75,000 refugees annually to the United States. We can and must do better.

Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed his concerns, as well:

Restricting resettlement, especially in the context of the travel ban, appears to validate the propaganda of the Islamic State and other extremist groups, which claims that the United States is hostile to Muslims. The battle against violent extremism must be fought with guns, but also with ideas. Slamming the door on refugees is a significant strategic blunder.

Opponents of refugee resettlement would have you believe that the country’s enemies are exploiting the program. There is no factual basis for this claim. In fact, of all the people who enter the United States, refugees are the most thoroughly vetted. The screening process is exhaustive and lengthy, and involves numerous agencies. Our intelligence and national security professionals can both vet refugees and protect Americans. Indeed, they’ve done just that for years.

Refugees are victims of extremist groups and brutal governments. They become patriotic, hard-working Americans. Refugees are us. They are teachers, police officers, doctors, factory workers and soldiers. There are thousands of former refugees and children of refugees in the United States military. I served alongside many who were eager and proud to give back to the country that helped them in their time of need.

Yes, You Can Regulate Evil: Why Catholics Should Support Stricter Gun Laws

“You can’t regulate evil.”  These words, spoken by Matt Bevin, the Governor of Kentucky, seem to resonate with so many Americans.  Horrific acts of brutal violence are the price we pay for living in a free society, or so people claim.

Nevertheless, as Catholics, we do not believe this, and our faith does not teach this.  The fatalistic attitude that bad things will happen because bad people exist fails to take into account the very purpose of laws.  The essence of law is to regulate and reduce bad behavior, in addition to directing citizens towards making good decisions.  Catholics believe that good laws can help to create better people.  Laws should point society towards the common good.

St. Thomas Aquinas argues that laws can do two things: first, the coercive power of laws can pressure or scare citizens into obeying rules, and second, laws can work to create more virtuous citizens.  Through this coercive element of law, even those who are the most vile and dangerous to society can be pushed in the direction of virtue.  By prohibiting the unethical behavior that citizens might engage in, laws teach citizens good and virtuous behavior.

While Aquinas points out that laws cannot aim to create a perfect society filled with citizens who possess all the virtues of goodness, laws should always be oriented towards creating a system that promotes the common good and welfare of society.  Obviously, Aquinas states, society cannot prohibit all vices; it would be impossible to do so.  Nevertheless, in order to promote the common good, laws need to prohibit the most egregious misdeeds that people are capable of committing.  These include laws against assault, murder, etc.  Violence perpetrated by guns clearly falls into this category.

The simple fact of the matter is that Catholics need to support stricter gun laws and restrictions on weapons. There is a culture of violence and death that is abetted by our excessively libertarian approach to guns. The absence of adequate regulations results in harmful, unethical behavior that can be reduced. There’s no way around this; if you are Catholic, then you need to be in favor of creating governmental policies that will reduce gun deaths.

Using law to promote virtue and goodness in people might sound far-fetched, but we only need to look to civil rights laws that promoted and protected the equality of women, ethnic and racial minorities, religious minorities, persons with disabilities, and gay, lesbian, and transgender persons to find real examples of this in action.  Various laws have helped to shift public opinion and have created a society that not only protects but also accepts and embraces people who were previously oppressed or ostracized. Bigotry, injustice, and inequality remain, but changes in law have dramatically shifted both behavior and attitudes in a positive direction.

Why should our attitude about guns be any different?  Why couldn’t well-designed laws and regulations on firearms help to create a more virtuous community?  The very point of law is to regulate evil and to convert those who might otherwise commit that evil. From a broad lens, it seems obvious that the United States has a great deal of room for improvement on this.

It is true that crafting legislation in this area is an incredibly complex issue in the US; and there does not need to be a “one size fits all” approach to regulating guns.  Aquinas makes the point that different communities might need different variations of the law to match the needs of the community.  We can do the same with guns.

Rural areas will likely need different rules and regulations than large cities, and areas with lots of hunters will need different laws than places where hunting is non-existent.  But this is the beauty of the American federal system.  Local, state, and the federal government can all engage in the policy making process to make laws that make sense for their area.

Given how pervasive gun violence is in this country, doing nothing is not an option.  If we take the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas seriously, then Catholics need to be on the front lines of this fight for better gun control.  To continue to throw our collective hands up in the air and to say “these thing happen” only further invites these things to happen.

Quote of the Day

Archbishop José Gomez: “Let us commit ourselves to an America that cares for the young and the elderly, for the poor and the sick; an America where the hungry find bread and the homeless a place to live; an America that welcomes the immigrant and refugee and offers the prisoner a second chance.”

Catholic Leaders Gather to Discuss Implementing Amoris Laetitia

via Joshua McElwee:

Even less attention has been given to how local dioceses might implement its program for bishops and priests to see God’s grace at work even in the sometimes-unconventional situations families and marriages face today.

An upcoming event at Boston College hopes to address that lack of attention. In five panel discussions over two days Oct. 5-6, two cardinals, 12 bishops, and 24 other invited participants are set to discuss what organizers are calling the “new momentum” Amoris Laetitia gives local bishops to renew their pastoral practices toward families….

Cupich will attend the Boston-area event as will Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who was called to Rome from Dallas by Francis in 2016 to lead the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Farrell will speak Oct. 5 as part of a panel on how the apostolic exhortation addresses those in Western cultures who have become disaffected by authority structures….

Other bishops set to speak at the event include Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory and San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy. Those in attendance are to include Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester; Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson; San Bernardino, California, Bishop Gerald Barnes; Cheyenne, Wyoming, Bishop Steven Biegler; and Burlington, Vermont, Bishop Christopher Coyne….

Among the expected 24 lay participants at the event are some of the most prominent theologians in the U.S., including: Cathleen Kaveny, Richard Gaillardetz, and Hosffman Ospino of Boston College; Julie Hanlon Rubio of St. Louis University; Franciscan Sr. Katarina Schuth of the University of St. Thomas, and Meghan Clark of St. John’s University….

The Boston conference carries the title “Amoris Laetitia: A New Momentum for Moral Formation and Pastoral Practice.” The program states that Francis is “inviting the Church to a renewed process of moral formation and pastoral practice with regard to marriage and family life that is rooted in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s faith.”

“Implicitly, [the pope] is also envisioning a wider perspective on renewal that has a broader application for the life of the whole Church,” it continues. “The foundations are absolutely traditional … but what brings the movement forward is a creative recovery of synodality, listening, accompaniment and discernment.”