Dr. Peter’s responds to Dr. Kreeft

I posted a piece by Peter Kreeft who opined that it would be good for one hundred anti-abortion-graphic-image-totin’ bishops to be thrown in jail as a witness against abortion.  Among other consequences, the press could not ignore the message.

I thought that was pretty edgy.  I posted about that here.  Peter Kreeft’s original piece is on Youth Defense.

Here is a reaction to Dr. Kreeft’s view by Dr. Peters, the Canonical Defender on his blog, In The Light Of The Law.  Alas, Dr. Peter’s doesn’t have an open combox.  Do add him to your RSS feed reader.

My emphases and comments.

I have learned far more from the great Dr. Peter Kreeft than he has ever learned (or had need to learn!) from me, but I think his recent remark that it would be good to see one hundred bishops thrown in jail for carrying graphic images of aborted babies need some nuance. His comment also lets me make a few points regarding the use of graphic imagery by pro-lifers.

1. Abortion is brutal, ugly, and downright disgusting. But, pro-lifers didn’t make abortion that way, it already is that way. The vast majority of the adult population in the US does not appreciate how violent abortion is; they have a sanitized impression of abortion, fostered by such words as “clinic” and “procedure” and “choice”. Pictures contextualize those words in an instant. If memory serves, the greatest progress against “partial-birth abortion” came when (wholly accurate) diagrams of scissors being jammed into the base of nearly-born babies’ skulls began to circulate.

2. I’ve always been more amenable to the use of graphic images of abortion than have some other, quite sound and amply dedicated, pro-lifers I know of, but at least some of my ‘tolerance’ can be ascribed to simple things like a sterner stomach. In any case, one’s degree of openness to the use of graphic abortion pictures should not be regarded as a measure of one’s dedication to saving lives or as a test of one’s pro-life machismo. [Good point.]

3. Good arguments against the use of such photos, especially in certain contexts, exist and should be heeded. No one I know of thinks, for example, that photos of aborted babies should be paraded through grade-schools in the hopes that, say, it will frighten 8-year-olds away from seeking abortions ten years later. But the use of such these images in public venues and easy-access websites threatens exactly this sort of premature and traumatizing exposure.

4. Pictures of abortion victims must never, ever, be used for any purpose except to directly and prudently educate adults about abortion. Using dead baby photos to, say, influence bystanders into pressuring Church officials to make personnel decisions about their clergy who are working in one of many worthy pro-life apostolates is, besides everything else that is wrong about that, to exploit the death of the very victims one claims to love.

Now to Kreeft’s comment, distinguens.  [Qui bene distinguit, bene docet.]

It is one thing to say that “It would be good if one-hundred bishops were thrown in jail for carrying pictures of aborted babies,” and another thing to say “Good could be drawn from having one-hundred bishops thrown in jail for carrying pictures of aborted babies.” The second claim is wholly defensible, I think, the first is less so.

It is never “good” for the coercive power of the State to be applied against individuals, let alone against bishops, striving to proclaim the Gospel and/or to witness to the demands for Christian living. Such coercion is wrong itself, of course, but it also, as history shows time and again, feeds the appetite of the State to inflict yet more suffering on the Body of Christ. [Thus…] Nothing, however casually offered, should be said to encourage such actions. Yes, I know, sanguis martyrum, semen christianorum. Amen to that, but Tertullian did not call good the infliction of suffering on the faithful, rather, he showed how God could bring great good from sufferings accepted for his name.

Put another way, I hope and pray that we have one hundred bishops (or philosophy profs, or canon lawyers) willing to be thrown in jail for undertaking any number of good and holy works, but I also hope that we never find out for sure.

I doubt Kreeft would disagree with any of my observations, but I didn’t see these points being made elsewhere, so. . .

Now a few more people will see them.

An interesting and well-reasoned response.

I am sure we will see more.

What do you think?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Great response. We never wish for persecution, but should not be surprised if it happens. Praying for the bishops to have such courage, and also, not to be persecuted by the various states.

  2. UncleBlobb says:

    I think that good could be drawn 100 philosophy professors at a pro-life rally and would be quite the thing!

  3. Jason says:

    Don’t do anything to encourage the state to persecute you because it only encourages the state to continue to persecute you? Is that it? I guess that would be the Neville Chamberlain approach to things.

    In the time he took to write that nonsense how many babies were slaughtered?

    The state has been persecuting the body of Christ from the beginning. I wondered what this guy would have advised Christ if he were with Him at Gethsemane.

    Show the pictures, the ugly brutal truth that the pictures say about what we have become. Getting arrested is a picnic in comparison to what’s happening to our brothers and sisters.

    [I’ll write this once. Moderate your tone or don’t post here. Dr. Peters and Dr. Kreeft wrote intelligent pieces. Try to match their level of respectful commentary. If this thread starts out with flames like this, it will degenerate swiftly and ruin what could be a good discussion about something important.]

  4. benedetta says:

    Exactly. I commented about the distinction on the other post about this. I didn’t read Prof Kreeft’s words as an apologia for more and more graphic images everywhere. I read them as about something else and something important that affects both major fronts for the culture of life: religious freedom as well as the sacredness of human life.

  5. benedetta says:

    I would also say that, from what I can make out from the sidelines, the Canadian Bishops seem to have their act together in terms of having the spiritual needs of young people as paramount these days so I do not at all doubt for a second the Canadian Bishops’ real commitment to prolife. They are rightly responsible for how they address the culture of death. At the same time the culture of death seems to be so insatiable that in addition to desiring more and more abortion it also seems to desire to muzzle persons of faith and good will from legitimate discussion in the public square. I do think it would be pretty impressive to see the Canadian Bishops stand together in solidarity with the unborn, to say, we will speak on their behalf, we will protect them…not the getting thrown in jail part, but the stand-up and be willing to be identified as supportive of hope. Maybe just one could hold a very tiny, like, 4 inch or so graphic photo, and the rest could link arms with the one holding, together….

  6. Cephas1229 says:

    I did not take Dr. Kreeft’s words in the way that is noted above. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if…..”
    I take that to mean “Wouldn’t it be wonderful that instead of words which are sometimes cheap and empty, to finally back them up with action.” And wouldn’t if be wonderful if the visible heads of our respective dioceses would stand up together as brothers and speak to the message that so many of our brothers and sisters are being slaughtered in the womb, and what better way to proclaim this truth via visual image. It certainly would make a statement, one that could not be ignored.

  7. mrose says:

    Jason, I think you make some helpful points, but let’s encourage some more charity, especially towards the esteemed Dr. Peters. (And no, I’m not using the cop-out “charity” card. Abortion matters, period. It is indefensible, period. Nobody is questioning that.)

    Objectively, the state persecution of the Church is a bad thing. However, the main reason in many places today that the Church is not more persecuted by the state is not because of the state’s respect for the Church, but because of a very poor witness by Catholics to the Faith. So, I think both Dr. Kreeft and Dr. Peters can be quite correct here: we should want persecution because the state, more often than not, will be hostile to the Church (and certainly is so in Canada) but we must never let that impugn our witness. Canadian bishops would do well to improve their witness to the Gospel – they as a group have been darn near disastrous the last 50 years. So to have Canadian bishops jailed for their witness, given the times in which we live, would be a positive thing. However, as Dr. Peters points out, the state should respect and protect the Church, recognizing both its (the state’s) own limitations and the Church’s unique mission.

  8. I agree with Dr. Peters. And I also have to ask, would Dr. Kreeft put his money where his mouth is? Would he be willing to join the bishops in the clink? It’s one thing to issue such a challenge from the safety of the ivory tower, quite another to demonstrate by example.

  9. bookworm says:

    Sorry, but this “bring it on” bit is where I get off the train. I absolutely do not, ever, want persecution any more than I want to have both my legs cut off or have my house destroyed by an earthquake or a tornado or a fire. Now, I can see where, like an amputation, it may HAVE to be suffered for the sake of a greater good (preserving one’s spiritual life or that of the Church), and I can see where good can come from it as good often comes from various disasters, but please don’t ever expect me to LIKE it, or go out looking for it, or to not try everything morally possible to avoid it. An evil from which good comes is still an evil.

  10. Cephas1229 says:

    @Sean-I believe the point that Dr. Kreeft was making was that people get arrested all the time for prolife activities. However, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see 100 bishops stand up for the unborn? The issue is not whether Dr. Kreeft would join their ranks or not. 100 people getting arrested might be ignored by the media, would 100 bishops?

  11. mike cliffson says:

    Over Cristendom this past halfcentury nearly there’s amany prolifers got the doubtless uncharitable impression that many- their local- Bishops would leave no boat but protected from rocking regards abortion.
    Many prolifers in the church have felt, very, very alone.
    If the broad brushstroke that’s been used to decry “insufficient “protests and martyrdoms re the Shoah be applied, who shall escape trashing?

  12. I think we should separate the issue of bishops being jailed from the use of graphic imagery. In some places, the law can be used against people with no signs at all simply praying too close to an abortion mill.

    I would like to see bishops be more daring, though, and I think they are moving in that direction. They see the dismal failure of their predecessors and as a group are growing weary of being ignored and rendered irrelevant. The biological solution is slow and frustrating, but it is working. It makes one wonder if perhaps the Pope should temporarily lower the mandatory retirement age for bishops just to speed things along a bit. He could, as always, ignore the retirement papers of the better bishops, but it would provide a face-saving way to weed out the lesser ones a little faster.

  13. Kerry says:

    If it is the case, (as I think is so, but I could be wrong), that such images in Canada, a place without a First Amendment fall under ‘hate speech’ laws, then the ironic point being made is the law will tolerate the murders but not the photographs. (Too shocking…?) Again, I could be wrong about this.

  14. Sliwka says:

    Kerry, this is a pretty good sumary of Canada’s free speech law (Section 2(b) under the Charter). We do have free expression, however limits may be placed where the expression incites “hate”.

    Defining what defines “hate” however is another sticky matter.

  15. Alan Aversa says:

    Yes, persecution is good only if those persecuted suffer for justice’s stake: “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10). The Haydock Commentary says:

    Heretics and malefactors suffer occasionally, but they are not on this account blessed, because they suffer not for justice. For, says S. Aug. they cannot suffer for justice, who have divided the Church; and where sound faith or charity is wanting, there cannot be justice. Cont. epis. Parm. l. i. c. 9. ep. 50. ps. 4. conc. 2. B. — By justice here we understand virtue, piety, and the defence of our neighbour [and this includes the unborn]. To all who suffer on this account, he promises a seat in his heavenly kingdom. We must not think that suffering persecution only, will suffice to entitle us to the greatest promises. The persecutions we suffer must be inflicted on us on his account, and the evils spoken of us must be false and contradicted by our lives. If these are not the causes of our sufferings, so far from being happy, we shall be truly miserable, because then our irregular lives would be the occasion of the persecutions we suffer. Chry. hom. xv.

    Some Romans sought to be persecuted and ultimately martyred because they thought they would instantly gain heaven, but this is certainly “irregular,” and their “irregular lives would be the occasion of the persecutions” they suffered. “The persecutions we suffer must be inflicted on us on his account.”

    The “niño Cristero, Bl. José Sanchez del Río, […] at 14 yrs. of age, begged his mother leave to join the Catholic army, telling her that never was it so easy to gain heaven as now.” (source). That was suffering for justice’s sake.

  16. WideMeadow says:

    “the greatest progress against ‘partial-birth abortion’ came when (wholly accurate) diagrams of scissors being jammed into the base of nearly-born babies’ skulls began to circulate.” I think an important characteristic was that these were indeed diagrams. Diagrams can show the explicit truth without the gore that makes people not look and comprehend but simply look away.

  17. Good balance.

    I also like the idea by Andrew – that we should separate the issue of using graphic images with being jailed.

    Also, if a given bishop has a problem with the use of graphic images, and is willing to get involved in efforts where they are not used, I think he needs to explain this. Sometimes I think they feel people should automatically understand their apprehension.

    I think this may be the case in Spokane under Bishop Cupich where, allegedly, he has prohibited his priests and seminarians from getting involved in some public pro-life efforts there. That has leaked out in rather sloppy form without really getting it from +Cupich. It sounds like he may take issue with use of graphic images. I think it would be rather rash to presume that he is not pro-life enough, or that he is a “coward” of some kind if he has a reason not to want graphic images used. It would be good to hear directly from him, to get clarification on exactly what it is that troubles him, and what kind of efforts he might back – or get personally involved in.

    I think people do more to push the bishops away by judging their motives without taking the time to try to understand them.

    As I said earlier, I think there is a time and a place to use graphic images. I’m against using them in situations where young children might needlessly be exposed to horrific pictures of mangled, dead babies. While one child might be unphased, another might be traumatized.

  18. benedetta says:

    bookworm, I quite agree and sympathize. However, sometimes even when we attempt to avoid it scrupulously it comes anyway. I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to hide or duck it. But each of us has different levels of responsibilities. We are not Bishops so what we could tolerate may be different. Or not. But sometimes when we think we have nicely disguised ourselves in the secular culture and do what the state or the pro choicers or the culture of death would have us do and nothing more or different, somehow persecution still may have a way of finding us, when we are least prepared, when we least expect it. In other words, it is not just the prolifer who willingly gets out there and endures all sorts of things or who writes in to local newspaper on behalf of unborn who winds up getting persecuted. The days are here when any sort of Catholic, just for praying at a Church, is fair game for all sorts of things, just for that. We either stand up to it or we do not and if we do not what we will come will be worse than a persecution. Even if you don’t care about standing up publicly for prolife, maybe you would feel differently about the freedom to practice one’s faith (whatever faith that may be), to associate, freedom of speech, which affects everyone, not just prolifers, or not just Catholics. I don’t think that supporting prochoice or decrying the Church’s teachings on this or that is going to help anyone. Some of the first persecutions might pass such a person by in the short term, but that will not last. Anyone who thinks himself safe for supporting a certain mindset will ultimately have to decide for themselves whether or not they will profess the faith.

    But if you are fearful of what might happen if a nation’s Bishops stood up visibly to the dictatorship of relativism then you must have reason to fear. Are you saying that they will get persecuted for doing so? If it is a foregone conclusion then perhaps all the more it is a necessity that they somehow stand up to it, sooner rather than, later when it is out of control. Just a thought.

    I think many young people would greatly respect the Bishops if they were to do something. I just don’t think that demonstrating in peaceful resistance is an act of martyrdom or brings about persecution. The Marches for Life every year are joyful, not acts of martyrdom by any means.

    But at the end of the day I doubt highly that the state would want such a display by the Bishops and would seek to find some common ground. They are in the best position to ascertain. Is there a dialogue or not. If there is not then peaceful resistance to defend civil liberties is the appropriate step. Ours as well as the unborn’s. What is a day on a march compared to what the unborn are slated for. If our leaders wish to make abortion rare then there needs to be some dialogue towards that in the first place. Without any dialogue all that can be seen as far as the eye can see is tens of millions of deaths of innocent lives.

  19. Former Altar Boy says:

    Whether with or without graphic photos, if 100 bishops were arrested en masse for pro-life activities, it might help them regain — as a group — some of the moral authority they surrendered for their silence during the years adolescent (mostly) abuse was taking place.
    On a somewhat related note, when was the last time you have actually heard a Sunday sermon (or, ugh, homily) actually condemning abortion, its multiple and long-term effects (not just to the innocdent baby), or that its confession is normally reserved to a bishop? For me, it was the 1950s.

  20. rkd says:

    WHOOO—I don’t think any Bishop has to worry about being persecuted. I am so totally disheartened to see a picture of Archbishop Dolan giving communion during the recent memorial mass for Archbishop Sambi and right next to him Vice-President Biden receiving communion from the priest next to him immediately after his trip to China where he sympathized with their one child policy. Hasn’t Archbishop Dolan spoken out against abortion? But….where is the followthrough? Why are Bishops so afraid to put their words into action and deny Catholic politicians communion when those politicians blatantly promote it? Has any bishop ever denied a politican communion when they come up to receive? (Yes, I realize that he’s not the Bishop of Washington DC and Biden went to communon to the priest….but this is in the Basilica of the Immacualte Conception where pro-abort politicians regularly receive communion. PUL-EASE –when will it stop??) The laity is CRYING OUT for a bishop to to stand up for the unborn…not just using words but using ACTION. There are a few…very few….courageous one…but way too few. And I just read that a Catholic Hospital in Texas, Seton Healthcare, is now proving the “morning after pill” after agreeing with a study from NARAL that it was needed. UGGGH. Where is the Bishop there? Don’t worry…we need not worry about any Bishops being persecuted. Remember, in England during the Reformation, when push came to shove, only one…yes, just ONE bishop– Bishop John Fisher– remained faithful and was martyred. The rest caved. It seems to me that push has already come to shove and most of our Bishops talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.

  21. JohnE says:

    I understood what Dr. Kreeft was getting at. I also appreciate Dr. Peter’s nuances for those who are prone to over-analyze.

  22. anilwang says:

    “It is never “good” for the coercive power of the State to be applied against individuals, let alone against bishops, striving to proclaim the Gospel ”

    Actually I disagree, at least in the relativistic “tolerant” world we are finding ourselves increasingly in. This environment encourages fuzzy thinking and a fuzzy faith. Words are regularly redefined to mean the opposite. Non-sequiturs and power plays have replaced logical arguments. A clear action, any clear action, which forces Good and Evil to be distinguished is precisely what is needed to kick us out of our comfort zone and force us to choose sides. As C. S. Lewis once wrote, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.

  23. Red Cardigan says:

    I do not think 100 bishops need to risk jail. I would be happy if 100 bishops would preach at least five Sunday homilies a year on the grave evil of abortion (perhaps also contraception and the immorality that leads to both), calling their flock to repent of these evils. If they would instruct the priests of their 100 dioceses to do likewise, imagine what good could be done.

  24. tioedong says:

    you are missing the point: Most women seeking an abortion won’t be put off by graphic images.
    They often are emotionally upset from all those hormones, and often pressured by family or boyfriend to get rid of the problem.
    Remind them it is a precious baby. Remind them that love between a man and a woman is holy. Remind them that there is a reason it is called “making love” and that love means caring for those you love, including the child of your womb.
    And while you are at it, please pray for the Philippines, because we are being pressured by the US and UN to push artificial contraception and population control on our poor. Yes, one third of the babies are born here without a trained birth attendant, but their priorities are to stop people from having babies.

  25. robababa says:

    I am a man. Men, even bishops, will never stop abortion. When men try to stop abortion through confrontation, we look like bullies. It will never work. Women must lead the pro-life movement, and men need to support the women’s pro-life movement.

    Years ago at a Sunday Mass, a lady from Project Rachel spoke to us. Her tone was gentle and soothing, but it was clear that her convictions were strong. While listening to her, I realized that this woman had the gift of charity. Women like her need to lead the pro-life movement, and men need to support them.

    So 100 bishops going to jail might be mas macho than 100 bishops being silent, and it might inspire the true believers (which is worthy), but I doubt that it would change any hearts. As others have noted, if 100 bishops spoke out for life on a regular basis, that could definitely change hearts.

    If 100 moms went to jail, that might change a lot of hearts…but Matres Enim Vitae* may have a better idea.

    *That’s “Mothers for Life” in Latin, according to Google Translate

  26. MikeM says:

    @tioedong: I know that what you say about the women going for abortions is mostly true, but I think it’s more effective to approach them in a non-threatening manner and to engage them in a way where you can show some active concern for their wellbeing. I think when you’re standing next to a giant poster of a bloody fetus, you’re more likely to scare them off than to get them to reconsider. Maybe once you’ve gotten them to talk to you, you can show a photo to them to inform them, but I think we all know that those images are abrasive and I’m not sure that being immediately abrasive is the most effective way to reach women who are already worn thin from the stress of an unplanned pregnancy and often pressure and even abuse from their husbands/boyfriends, their families, and their friends.

    On the general topic of Dr. Kreeft’s comments, I guess I have a few points:
    1) I’ve done a little bit of Pro-Life work over the years, I’ve been at every March for Life since I was in sixth grade, I try to win over people from the other side whenever I get a chance… but I avoid being arrested. In fact, I would (and on one occasion did) go to great lengths to avoid any encounters with the police during Pro-Life work. There are plenty of worthwhile things to do to further the cause that don’t end with our activists in handcuffs. I don’t in the least bit blame anyone for choosing to forgo the opportunity for a ride in the back seat of a police car. If our bishops would prefer to focus on Pro-Life ministries that don’t provide them such an opportunity, I don’t see a problem with that.

    2) I’m not big on the bloody picture thing. I see the arguments for it in its time and place, and that’s fine for those who want to do that sort of thing… but I don’t want to and I probably won’t be found holding one of those “Abortion Holocaust” banners anytime soon. If bishops don’t like the images, I understand why they would avoid them.

    3) I think “Why aren’t you doing X for the Pro-Life cause” is the wrong question to ask our bishops, and it’s a little unfair. There are a lot of great things I would like to see our bishops do that they don’t do… but I don’t really think I have the right to expect them to do one particular thing at a particular time and place. They can exercise their own judgement on how to get involved in Pro-Life activities… but I do kind of expect to see them involved.

    So, instead of asking “Why aren’t they attending this event?” I think it’s better to ask “What are they doing to help the unborn?” If they can give a solid answer to that question, I think we need to lay-off of them with our other complaints about their Pro-Life cred.

  27. jflare says:

    So it seems we have at least two questions here:
    1. What might our bishops do that would galvanize our faith communities into confronting abortion effectively?
    2. What sorts of imagery should we use in what circumstances when addressing the abortion issue and related concerns?

    I regret I don’t have good answers for either question, but I’d like to offer a few thoughts for consideration.
    These past few days, I was startled by an article discussing the policy for priests in Spokane, WA. Having lived there a few years, I took note. Apparently, they’re not entirely sure if the bishop wants to allow his priests to pray near abortion facilities or not. His public statements have been..somewhat unclear.
    I was surprised to read this. Prior to my current job, I was able to join a group of people praying outside an abortion clinic on Saturday mornings. I always thought it a wonderful witness to truth when a priest–wearing priestly black, occasionally a cassock even–would lead us. Then again, one act–among many–that causes me to have a great deal of respect for my current pastor came when several of us (Knights) signed up to pray outside the same place during a 40 Days for Life vigil. Some of us had only technically signed up for one hour, but it was the night that Daylight Savings fouled up time, so..a bunch of us prayed there for two instead of one. I wound up running late, but when I arrived, there was our pastor, leading a Rosary.
    As well, over the past five years or so, our local archbishop has participated in a prayer vigil near the same facility. He’ll offer Mass at a church about a block away, then we all process over to the “clinic” for a Rosary or two, then everyone processes back.
    If there’re bishops looking for good ideas, these seem to be as worthwhile as any.

    As to the imagery, I’m somewhat conflicted.
    I’ve noticed that when we’re praying near the clinic, I find it rather weird to be praying a Rosary while gathered ’round an image of an aborted baby. I understand the idea, but it almost appears as though we’re praying to a dead baby. Not exactly my idea of an uplifting experience. I’d rather gather around an image of Our Lady, a crucifix, or something holy. Perhaps an image of Divine Mercy could work? (If only I had one that wasn’t an indoor wall hanging….)
    On the other hand, I once had a conversation–however brief–with someone who insisted on the right to abort children. She seemed utterly incapable of admitting that the ultimate result..is quite gruesome. Her attitude reminded me a great deal of the attitude examined by a movie, Judgement at Nuremberg. In that movie, a judge from a German court under Nazi control doesn’t entirely realize the horror that he has enabled. He’s shocked when another prisoner tells him how easily his Nazi masters were able to kill so many Jews and dispose of the bodies. He has not realized, until then, just how devastating the impact of his judicial pronouncements could be.

    I remember wishing that I could require every person in the nation to watch that movie, especially that scene.
    Sad though it may be, all too often, we don’t admit to the horrors of the evil we allow until we’re confronted with it in a graphic fashion.

    So, when do we use graphic images? Well, I would suggest that we ought to try placing a cross–or an image of one–above every gory picture of a human child. We need to see the horror of what we’ve tolerated, but we ALSO need to see a slim ray of hope.

    ..And I’d still prefer to pray around a statue or a picture of the Virgin Mary!

  28. jflare says:

    “Remind them that love between a man and a woman is holy. Remind them that there is a reason it is called “making love” and that love means caring for those you love, including the child of your womb.”

    I understand the point you’re trying to make here, tioedong, but I’m not sure this’ll help so much. I’m thinking that if a woman has already reached the point where she’s approaching a clinic to solve a “medical problem”, a reminder about “lovemaking” and “holiness”..may not impact her all that well. Especially when the man with whom she’s “made love” is now pressuring her–sometimes at the clinic parking lot–to get the problem “solved”.

    BTW, as a kind of PS to my earlier comment, I’d suggest that gory pictures may be the least things we need to worry about for kids. I’ve seen some pretty nasty stuff on TV that I, MYSELF, won’t watch, yet I’ve seen kids watch it like there was nothing to be concerned about. ..Then again, given the state that our nation has got itself into, if a few more kids have a few more nightmares about dead babies, ..perhaps they’re parents will have a tad more cause to think very seriously about what they’re about.
    Certainly a VERY long shot, but we may need to use some very long shots if we wish to save children and/or our nation.

  29. @RedCardigan – you hit the nail on the head.

    If the bishops would teach the faith on abortion from the pulpit (and they can do so in a way that goes over the heads of small children), and if they would take canon 915 at face value, mindful of the distinction with canon 916, that would be even better.

    Leadership on any issue needs to start at the pulpit, then carry out into the world.

  30. I decided to pick up on that theme initiated by RedCardigan in my own blogpost today. We are here talking about bishops getting arrested when perhaps we need to be begging them just to preach the fullness of the faith from the pulpit.

    When was the last time you heard a bishop, or even your parish priest, talk about cohabitation fornication, adultery, etc. – all things that will often lead to “unwanted” pregnancies, and abortions.


  31. benedetta says:

    I certainly agree with Diane and Red Cardigan that there are numerous things Bishops may do personally and collectively with the faithful to support prolife in their dioceses. If there is one thing that prolife is, it is DIY. It is not one or the other, Bishops versus the faithful or faithful but not Bishops, or priests, or this or that state in life, but it necessarily must come from and on behalf of, all. I think people are looking for leadership and opportunities to be of support. And I am sure that a generation of children will be the most appreciative of the efforts of Bishops to support prolife. I am not sure whether we always get or acknowledge the insidious coercion that pregnant women, first and foremost women without means materially, resources or support, but truly all women, conditioned to believe that “it’s my body” and “this child will ruin my…life, career, plans, relationship, freedom, etc” feel as a knee-jerk and uncontrollable response. Most young people really feel that children will be on their timeline and terms, when they want them, and not when they do not, and that is that. So even when a child is desired theoretically many women still cannot help but panic by the message of consumerism that dictates that before we may be permitted to bring a child into this world we must have, this much money, these things, a college fund, lots of space, the perfect preschool and school already picked out, many adoring friends and family ready to step in to help at a moment’s notice, and so many other things as well, and if we do not, well, that is our choice and do not expect anyone to be supportive or admire you for bringing a child into an imperfect world anyway. I am not sure always that our friends in the clergy always comprehend this as it is a female experience of today and it is not commonly acknowledged or discussed. Some are acknowledging it. But to shrug and just say there is nothing that can be done as abortion will always be around is to essentially say to women that they aren’t trusted, that families cannot do it, to be the face and voice of consumerist discouragement to good, natural hope that what God has created is good. Families need encouragement and if Bishops think that graphic images will not accomplish this that is certainly up to them. There are myriad, innumerable good, solid, visible and uplifting ways to go about it so that tacit support and throwing up one’s hands is unnecessary.

  32. Bender says:

    Aside from questions about the effectiveness of the tactic of using graphic photographs, there is the question of the morality, or lack thereof, of the utilitarian objectification of these children by pro-lifers who would exploit them and use them as them as tools, rather than treating their remains with the dignity that they deserve.

    Babies who are aborted are NOT educational tools. Their bodies should be treated with loving dignity, and not be used by others for shock value. They have already suffered the exploitation of the abortionist, they do not need the exploitation of those who seek to stop the abortionist.

    Would anyone countenance the display of child pornography to demonstrate how evil it is to take sexual pictures of naked children? Or would we rightly say that to show these pictures, in any capacity, would be to further exploit and victimize the children shown in them?

    When someone can get the prior written consent of these aborted children to have pictures of their brutalized and broken dead bodies displayed as advertising fodder, then it might be appropriate to show them. But until then, it is highly morally suspect.

  33. jflare says:

    By that logic, I should think we’d be unable to display pictures of the horrors of Auschwitz or other civilian victims of war. If it looks ugly, well, it is. As mentioned before though, sometimes people must see the end result of what they approve before they’ll be motivated to alter the law.

    Don’t forget, the civil rights movement of the 60’s really caught fire AFTER network news showed what all might happen….

  34. Bender says:

    jflare — I see that you totally ignored the part about the utilitarian exploitation of these children, treating them as mere objects and props. It is utilitarian objectification that put them in those pictures in the first place.

  35. Bender says:

    Besides, to use graphic photographs is to continue with this delusion — which far too many pro-lifers embrace — that if only we can come up with the right imagery, if only we can come up with the right argument, if only we can come up with undeniable proof, then the pro-aborts will be forced to agree that abortion is wrong. If only we do this or do that, then the pro-aborts will simply have to agree with us.

    But the fact of the matter is — the pro-aborts ALREADY KNOW THAT THEY ARE KILLING. They already know the truth about abortion. But they do not care.

  36. jflare says:

    Bender, I understand your angst, but I can assure you that I didn’t ignore anything about people being made into objects. I simply cannot agree with your conclusions. I don’t think we’ll find a silver bullet to end abortion. Just as the effort to legalize abortion came down a long, arduous path (Margaret Sanger and friends began somewhere around 1921), so too the path to mostly eliminate this plague will be long and painful.

    Perhaps I see this problem differently?
    In today’s life, we have violent movies, violent video games, violent this, violent that. Unfortunately, we also know what’s behind the scenes. We know that actor walks away; we know the 40 ninjas we just killed on the game console..don’t exist; we know that all this violence doesn’t really have any consequences.

    To put it mildly, we’ve become badly desensitized to bloodshed and death.

    So..why contribute to the gore by having graphic images on the street?
    Because you can’t dismiss these so easily. You can’t dismiss the slight grimace that the person might make as they hold the sign. You can’t so easily ignore the fact that a fellow person has died. I don’t like looking at these images either, yet I can’t ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. Like I said, I get a distinctive “ugh” factor whenever I see one.

    I’d be a bit careful with assuming how much every person in the abortion industry really knows. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they know in some fashion that a person dies. I think they do understand that in some fashion. But do they TRULY understand what’s really happening? Or have they been desensitized, possibly by training and reassurance, that it’s really not THAT bad?
    Don’t forget, Abby Johnson began her road away from Planned Parenthood when she assisted with a procedure, saw the baby move on the ultrasound, knew what was to happen to the child, and began having serious conscience pangs.

    Are graphic images analogous? I don’t know. Judging by the reactions that some have as they drive by the “clinic” here, I’d say they know, BUT THEY WANT TO IGNORE IT.
    I think many DO know, but they’re angry about the past, or they’re guilty, or something about it bothers them somehow.
    Can we relieve them by ceasing to show them the horror? I doubt it.

    Planned Parenthood, as an organization, has demonstrated for the longest time that they’re willing to soft-peddle what they do. A LOT!
    I’d love to see more holy images in pro-lifers hands, yes, but I think we DO need to remind people that we aren’t simply dealing with a broken leg. This IS serious business!

    Also, to the concerns related to what children–or others–should see, I’d comment that some G-rated movies have just enough violence that they can cause problems too. Will we now attempt to make believe that we don’t have problems? I think it might go a little TOO far for people to show these things at churches and schools a lot, but we DO still need to admit to the state we’ve got our country into.

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