Bl. John Paul II: “it is very difficult to speak of obsession” concerning abortion

I picked this quote up from a piece by my friend Fr. George Rutler, who recently wrote about “obsessing”.

There are those who would stifle the Pro-Life cause by calling it a single-issue obsession. Few would say that about the Abolition movement or the struggle against child labor, even though such worthy causes did attract a fair share of distempered monomaniacs. But slaves and children have to be born first, and so the protection of life from conception must rank first among all dedications of philanthropy.

Blessed John Paul II once submitted to an interview with the respected journalist Vittorio Messori, who asked him if he was perhaps “obsessive” in his preaching against abortion. The Holy Father replied:

“The legalization of the termination of pregnancy is none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves. It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”

Bl. John Paul II: “it is very difficult to speak of obsession” concerning abortion
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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18 Responses to Bl. John Paul II: “it is very difficult to speak of obsession” concerning abortion

  1. Urs says:

    Good one, Fr Z! Thank You!

  2. Muv says:

    Bravo bravo bravo Beloved John Paul II! Total unadulterated clarity, no waffle or ambiguity. Note the careful placing of the word “good” before “conscience.”

    Thank you Fr. Z. This had made my morning.

    PS. Any chance of a post about Lk. 23. 28-31? Not nagging or anything.

    PPS. Ever had white Stilton on toast? Cheese of the Angles and of the Angels.

    PPPS. Get well soon.

  3. Pingback: PopeWatch: Obsessions | The American Catholic

  4. idelsan says:

    No related. Why is there a post what requests a password to read it? It is our normal password or I am being nosy and means that it’s destined for some people only? I just ask because my cat it’s curious, not me, obviously!

  5. adeacon says:

    This is why Blessed John Paul II is going to be canonized. He always spoke the Truth..
    I am a deacon, and I am “obsessed.” I preach always in defense of the unborn, the children who can not defend themselves. Deacons, do not be afraid, in all circumstances, preach the Truth.

    Thank you Fr Z.

  6. david andrew says:

    At the risk of sounding uncharitable, snarky or provocative, this is a beautiful illustration of precisely why so many serious-minded, orthodox Catholics are confused and upset with the seemingly endless instances of the current Bishop of Rome making oddly-constructed statements that are then quoted out of context by the liberals. For whatever reason, Francis seems completely incapable of making an eloquent, unequivocal and direct statement in answer to a question such as this when being interviewed, thus giving the mainstream, liberal, small-“c” catholic press ample room to twist and torture his words which then sews confusion. Then bloggers and commentators have to come to the rescue, spending countless hours and blog posts untangling and fisking Francis’ words so that that the world can better understand what His Holiness has not said.

    In this case, Francis recently told us that we must not obsess. Fr. Ruttler and Blessed John Paul II apparently disagree, and convincingly so.

    Reading Francis through Blessed John Paul II, anyone?

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Bl. Pope John-Paul II [the quote is from the book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, chapter entitled: The Defense of Every Life]:

    ” It is difficult to imagine a more unjust situation, and it is very difficult to speak of obsession in a matter such as this, where we are dealing with a fundamental imperative of every good conscience — the defense of the right to life of an innocent and defenseless human being.”

    Pope Francis:

    “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

    “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus.”

    So, Life issues are not, “essential?” Indeed, one will never have the chance to be preached to if one is not born.

    Dueling Popes?

    This is not even a matter of prudential judgment. Clearly, one of them has misread the signs of the times, since the times have not changed.

    The Chicken

  8. SimonDodd says:

    I’m with David. It should be pointed out that you-know-who did not actually say that the Church is obsessed with abortion, as one might think from reading the media. He said: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods … The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.” He went on to say that “[t]he church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.” The cultus novus Francisci is eager to point out that these statements are not technically “wrong” insofar as they are not always and everywhere false applied to any concievable situation; they would insist that a challenge to Francis’ words must establish that no set of circumstances exists in which any interpretation of the words would be valid, cf. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 745 (1987). That is obviously absurd. What is scandalous in this is not the words themselves, but the impression they create to a normal, reasonably-educated Catholic. We used to have a term for this: Piarum aurium offensiva—a statement that is offensive to pious ears

  9. robtbrown says:

    If his fellow members of the hierarchy are as effective in ending poverty as they have been in stopping abortion, then we can expect that there will soon be mass starvation.

    My problem with the latest McElroy article is that his argument is based on naiveté and platitudes. Who is not against poverty? No one. It’s like being in favor of apple pie.

    When he comes close to specific issues, Bishop McElroy seems not to have a clue. Economic inequality has almost nothing to do with tax law or with re-distribution. (Should Oracle be taken away from Larry Ellison, who founded and built it?) It is not a matter of distribution but rather of production (cf Centissimus Annus). The good bishop seems to be stuck on the quasi-Marxist ideology of another age with its notion that wealth is a zero sum game.

    Further, his banalities have caused him to miss the boat on a more important problem in the US–the economic problems of the shrinking middle class caused by the revolution in technology. Thousands of middle class jobs have been outsourced or have been replaced by technology. Should those jobs be returned to the US? Those same jobs have economically benefited those nations where they moved. Should work 0nce again be done by people and the computers destroyed?

    Many of these American middle class people now find it difficult to send their children to Catholic schools. The collapse of the teaching orders has meant that the nominal tuition that was once charged has become, due to salaries paid to lay people, closer to the tuition of a private school. Why hasn’t the bishop written articles calling for the reform of these teaching orders, which would increase vocations and bring down tuition?

  10. benedetta says:

    The media, Obama, naral, PP, and certain “catholyc” politicians are indeed obsessed with abortion, and in encouraging more and more women to it, although tens of millions have already been slaughtered under cover of law.

    The spirit of the law is life. The Church is rather obsessed with life, to the full. With the sanctity of human life for all persons without discrimination.

  11. Pingback: Spot The Waffler | Mundabor's Blog

  12. Rushintuit says:

    I wonder if the odds are better, being aborted and spending an eternity of natural happiness in Limbo or being born into a world in which the Church is so screwed up, that the Pope calls proselytism, solemn nonsense?

  13. Giuseppe says:

    Rushintuit, what is this Limbo of which you speak? This is not a Roman Catholic belief (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church). God and only God knows where beings reside after death. While God is both loving and cruel (c.f. the Old Testament), I pray that He would not condemn unborn children to an eternity barred from heaven.

  14. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Giuseppe,

    the Old Testament describes God as wrathful because He is just and sins deserve punishment (principally born by Our Lord Himself on Cavalry, just to mention).

    However, I protest formally, solemnly and decidedly against your calling him cruel (the scholastic definition of which is exceeding in vengeance).

    I hate to talk like that but: do not say that again.

    /separation / (as they say when speaking wireless)

    As to the Limbo, it is the Roman Catholic belief that anyone is in Limbo whoever died with unforgiven original sin and no other sin. What we do not know is whether the unbaptized infants actually do belong to that category; they have no sin, they have original sin, but who knows whether and if so by what channels this one may have been forgiven.

    Dear @Rushintuit, whatever happens to the child when he dies before Baptism or adulthood… if he is baptized, or becomes an adult, there is precisely one person that can hinder God from bestowing Heaven upon him. And this person is not called “circumstances”.

  15. Imrahil says:

    properly speaking if he is baptized without becoming an adult (in the sense of moral theology, i. e. reaches use of reason), there is no such person at all.

    Note that ignorance excuses from mortal sin (if not the ignorance was itself a mortal sin because it was results from actions unignorantly sinful, and so on).

  16. Gratias says:

    John Paul II was a great Pope. The Culture of Death was a great setback for the Progressive agenda.

    I am with The Masked Chicken (Le Poulet Masqué?) in this one.

  17. Katylamb says:

    Idelsan: I guess that post is only for certain people because my password did not work to show it.

  18. Opal says:

    i admit i’ve been a lax, lapsed Catholic, and i don’t even remember how i came upon this site, but as a baptized and confirmed person and a lover, if a negligent lover, of Jesus Christ, I have to say I’m appalled at the derogatory comments toward Pope Francis. I haven’t followed the guy, and if I were still going to Mass I’m pretty sure I’d still be expecting the priest to say “John Paul the Second” when he prays for the Holy Father, but I still have enough of the sense the Sisters of Mercy instilled in me to say, STOP denigrating the Pope. This is not some nostalgic observation from a romantic point of view. This is to say, it is grossly disrespectful to slander the successor of Peter and of Christ Himself. To refer to the Holy Father as “you know who” is an ingratitude to the Holy Spirit who has chosen him for office. To refer to him as “the Bishop of Rome,” an office separate from his office as Pontiff, is an oblique, or maybe not so oblique, slur on his qualifications for the papacy.
    It’s true i’ve lived in a bubble of work and worry, with little time for, or interest in, world news, but did i miss some legitimate challenge to the Papal election? Well, I Googled that, and I guess there are those out there who are interpreting Revelation line by line with the current Pope the dragon, the Antichrist, the beast, and in short everything not so good. Are we there? Are you there? Are traditionalists better, superior naysayers of the Pope than are liberal naysayers? Come, come now. Apparently he is not particularly articulate. To each different gifts. Let us consider carefully whether or not that makes him an unfit Pope, and whether or not we are prepared to second guess the presumption that he is the choice of the Holy Spirit. Sinner that I am, I am prepared to view the individual on the chair of Peter as duly appointed by the Holy Spirit until and unless I have compelling, incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. This may just send me back to church; to again hear the Mass, in any language at all,would be divine.
    Peace Be With You.