Jon O’Brien’s (“catholics For Choice”) spittle-flecked nutty in HuffPo about Sr. Walsh’s remarks

HuffPo has posted a spittle-flecked nutty from  Jon O’Brien, president of the disgusting pro-abortion catholic group, Catholics … catholics For Choice.

O’Brien’s nutty was sparked by a post on the USCCB blog by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh.

Sr. Walsh wrote:

“Going to Catholics for Choice for a so-called Catholic view is like asking Catholic Atheists (yet to exist, I think) to opine on the meaning of God.”

Heh heh. Kudos.  Sr. Walsh’s entirely appropriate remark got under O’Brien’s skin.  Perhaps O’Brien has yet a trace of guilt for promoting immoral things.  I don’t know.

Sr. Walsh pointed to the fact that catholics For Choice are catholic in name only.  They hijacked the descriptive word “Catholic” for the title of their politically oriented organization.

They must not be given a free pass.  Sr. Walsh spoke up.  O’Brien lashed out in HuffPo.

You might enjoy reading O’Brien’s nervous reaction in its entirely, HERE.  Make some popcorn.

Leaving aside most of O’Brien’s piece, let’s focus on one point, in keeping with his title: “Nobody Gets to Say Who Is and Who Is Not Catholic”.  He wrote:

As somebody intimately familiar with the ways of the church, Sister Mary Ann knows that nobody gets to say who is and who is not Catholic. Not the priests, not the bishops and not the pope. One is a Catholic after baptism. Period. She might have her own opinions about who is a good Catholic or a bad Catholic, but her claims that we aren’t Catholic needs some fact-checking.

He’s right, of course.  Even excommunicated people are still Catholics.   Perhaps O’Brien should be excommunicated.  He perhaps could use some practical knowledge rather than just theoretical knowledge about his catholic identity.  Think of the authority being excommunicated would give him with his acolytes!

O’Brien also wrote:

 And as to my Catholicism, perhaps I’ll send her copy of my baptismal certificate, though I doubt she’d [Sr. Walsh] be appeased.

He has a baptismal certificate!  I guess he wins the argument with that one.  On the other hand, each and every priest who sexually abused children have baptismal certificates.  They are still Catholics, even in jail.

Baptized catholics remain baptized catholics in Hell, too.

The Church does, in fact, get to determine who is in communion with her and who is not.  The Church’s shepherds do, in fact, get to determine who can and can’t use the term “Catholic” in the names of their organization.  We all, in fact, get to form opinions about the catholicity of individuals and of organizations based on what they say and what they do.

I don’t think those priests – and nuns – who abused children were very Catholic in their actions.

catholics For Choice promotes abortion.  Killing children.  That doesn’t sound very Catholic to me.

O’Brien also wrote:

 As Catholics we take seriously our obligations to know and thoughtfully consider Catholic teaching. And in coming to our positions on abortion, family planning and other issues we have done so, and continue to do so. We didn’t make this up. We’ve got saints, cardinals, theologians and millions of Catholics on our side.

No, Jon, you are making this up.  Whom are you trying kid?  Catholics cannot in good conscience condone abortion.  Catholics cannot in good conscience promote abortion.

I doubt the saints O’Brien claims would be pleased to be counted as being on his side.  I hope those saints are asking God to grant O’Brien the graces needed for his conversion.  But wait!  On his side he also has “cardinals, theologians and millions of Catholics”?  BIG DEAL.  They have theologians on their side!  Wow!  Cardinals, too?  I’m sooo impressed!  Millions of Catholics?  That clinches it!

While I’m at it, O’Brien wrote:

“The church’s brand control over individuals ends the minute a person is baptized. From that point forward, we have the right — and the responsibility — to speak as Catholics on matters of social justice, including those that involve sex, sexuality and reproduction.”

Aside from the clear point in Catholic teaching that obedience is due to the Magisterium of bishops on matters of defined Catholic teachings, O’Brien must explain why his statement limits Catholics’ right and responsibility to dissent to “matters of social justice, including those that involve sex…”? What about their right and responsibility to dissent from other Catholic teachings, such as the divinity of Jesus, or the exclusive role of Christ in human salvation, or the trinitarian nature of God, or Mary’s role as Mother of God? What makes social justice such a privileged category for dissent?

catholics for Choice is dead wrong.  They promote evil and they claim that people can choose evil in good conscience.  Does that sound Catholic to you?

Holy Church has marks by which we recognize who she is.  These marks help us to know that we belong to the Church Christ founded, and not some reduced Church or some mere ecclesial community.  In a similar way, we can draw conclusions about Catholic identity, the catholicity of Catholics, by noting carefully and fairly both their words and deeds.   There is a great deal flexibility in this matter.  People make mistakes and, of course, remain Catholics.   People sin and remain Catholics.  The Church corrects them and they adjust their lives.  If erring people persist in their errors or sins after proper correction, then Holy Church can impose censures on them.  The Church can and does issue statements about those people or groups.  The Church can, in fact, say that people are not in communion with her or that they are in serious error.

Our tent is actually pretty big.  It is possible, however, to stray out of the tent.

I think O’Brien and catholics For Choice have strayed from the tent.  They stand in direct opposition to the Church’s clear moral teaching on a range of things, including the intrinsic evil of abortion.  They stand in direct opposition to the Church’s duly appointed shepherds, successors of the Apostles.

The USCCB should issue a clear, brief statement that catholics For Choice may not use the identifying term “Catholic” in the name of their anti-Catholic organization.

In the meantime…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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This entry was posted in 1983 CIC can. 915, Biased Media Coverage, Emanations from Penumbras, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Dear me. When did the press forget the difference between a bad Catholic and a good Catholic. When I was a professor at the University of Oregon, I was on a panel with a rabbi for a discussion of the religious stance of Madeleine Albright. She was baptized a Catholic, but born of a Jewish mother, and had become some kind of Episcopalian or something.

    When asked about her religious identity, I said, she will always be a Catholic as she was baptized into the Church. Her choice to join the Episcopalians or whatever simply makes her a bad Catholic. When the question was posed to the rabbi, he smiled, looked at me and said, “She is a Jew, her joining now Jewish groups simply shows she is a bad Jew.” And then he said, “I think I and the priest understand the problem.” Then came the various Protestants trying deny what the Jew and the Catholic said was obvious …

  2. Wow. Who are the patron saints of abortion and contraceptives? Did Br. Robert Lentz do an icon of Margaret Sanger?

  3. Southern Catholic says:

    I would also like to know exactly who, especially Saints, that supports abortion. I actually went to catholics for Choice’s website to see if anything was listed over there and all I can find is different articles bashing either the canonization of certain Saints or something else with the Catholic church.

    How is O’Brien not excommunicated?

  4. TC says:

    Amazingly, many of HuffPo’s readers get the point judging from the combox, here’s a nugget:

    “Nobody Gets to Say Who Is and Who Is Not Vegan
    Hugh Jass
    President, Vegans for Meat

    My organization, Vegans for Meat was the subject of a bizarre attack from the United States Vegan Council (USVC) this week.
    . . . “

  5. tzard says:

    Millions of catholics, huh? Out of 1.2 billion that’s not much of a claim. Much less than the percentage of those who believe the earth is flat or any of a number of other crackpot theories.

  6. PostCatholic says:

    Reminds me of comedian Dara O’Briain’s observations:

    You can join the Taliban and you’d merely be a bad Catholic. You can become a Protestant, pray for the Pope’s conversion, and tattoo the Solas on your heart – and the Catholic Church still says you’re Catholic. Just not a very good one. You can hate God, persecute Christians and change your name to Richard Dawkins—and the Catholic Church still says you’re Catholic. Just a bad one. You can murder six million people, build the Antichrist’s temple or even refuse to drink Guinness—but the Catholic Church still says you’re Catholic. Probably just a lapsed one.

  7. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Saint Thomas Aquinas calls those Catholics who willfully reject one or more of the Church’s teachings on matters of faith and morals, heretics.

    Not “Catholics.” Heretics.

    Aquinas reminds us that as Catholics we show our faith in Christ by giving our willing assent to all the articles of faith that His Church proposes teaches. Even though we may not fully understand one or more of them; even though we may struggle and at times fail in observing some of them, we remain Catholics for so long as we are willing to assent. A heretic is one who, in “those matters, the denial of which leads to the corruption of some article of faith . . . chooses not what Christ really taught, but the suggestions of his own mind.”

    What’s more, he says that after the one who has strayed into heresy has been admonished and corrected twice, if that one persists in willfully rejecting what the Church teaches, even on just one point, that other Catholics should pointedly avoid that individual, lest they, too, become corrupted.

    I believe it goes without saying that a faithful Catholic don’t vote into public office an individual whom he is advised to avoid in social settings.

    Interesting article in the Summa Theologica (ST II-II Q.11) which may be found at

  8. LisaP. says:

    One of my favorite movie scenes is when a lawyer is sitting with a private detective in a bar. They’ve been discussing religion on and off, the detective is a Catholic. The lawyer has a breaking moment, and he says he wants to be baptized. The detective takes water, says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

    “There,” he says next, “Now you can go to Hell.”

  9. ray from mn says:

    I”m not a trained theologian and I don’t really get the distinction. How can someone who doesn’t observe the commandments (precepts) of the Church be considered to be still a Catholic.

    The baptismal words, coming from Matthew 28:19, are used not only by the Church but also by most protestant denominations, indicating that one doesn’t have to be a priest to baptize. In fact, laypeople can baptize when a person is in danger of death.

    I prefer to use the new term “katholic” to describe such people, if I must.

  10. Northern Ox says:

    It’s interesting to go back and read the New York Times piece by “public editor” Margaret Sullivan that inspired Sr. Mary Ann’s post. Sullivan seems to be justifying Times reporters giving only one side of a story in situations where it’s just obvious to them that the other side is wrong. Based on the prevailing mindset at the Times, I can foresee their reporters quoting ONLY catholics for Choice (and not, say, the Pope or any Catholic bishops) because everybody in the Times newsroom just KNOWS that the cfC position is true.

    Similarly, there’s no need for the Times ever to quote anything said by a Republican, any scientist who questions global warming (oops, I mean “climate change”), anyone who says black isn’t white, etc.

  11. The Masked Chicken says:

    The baptismal words, coming from Matthew 28:19, are used not only by the Church but also by most protestant denominations…

    Yes, every validly baptized Protestant starts out life as a Catholic until they hit the age of reason, sigh.

    The Chicken

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    Should be,

    Every validly baptized Protestant baby…

  13. Imrahil says:

    One of the good things of living in a hereditary Catholic environment is that not even the most dissenting progressists are arguing that with their being baptized, all they utter is Catholic opinion.

  14. rhhenry says:

    I think I’ll start “Nike for Couch Potatoes.” We like *watching* sports, but we won’t actually participate while we get fat and lazy. How long do you think it would take before Nike cracked down on us for some sort of copyright infringement.

    This whole episode is (in my mind) actually (paradoxically? perversely?) good news — the Church loves Her children so much that She won’t reject even those who have so obviously turned their backs on Her . . .

  15. Johnno says:

    The word ‘HERETIC’! Time for Catholics to remember that word exists, means something, and use it!

    ‘FORMAL EXCOMMUNICATIONS’, time the Catholic Bishops remember that’s something within their authority to do for good reasons! Time to exercise it!

    What? Are we all gone all soft and politically correct now? Is this some more of that fine Catholic Tradition of Tolerance? Archibishop Muller!!! Paging His Grace to lay down the clear teachings of the Faith! Or does Mr. O’Brein have to start saying bad things about Vatican II before he bothers???

    It’s time we brought the HOLY AND BLESSED INQUISITION back too! Preferably of Spanish descent and mean looking in their facial expressions! It’s time for a little less insignificant meaingless ‘love’ and a little more HATRED OF SIN and the desire to put the FEAR OF GOD into these people!

  16. Joseph-Mary says:

    Sadly, the truth of the matter is that this man is not just a ‘bad catholic’ but is a heretic. Let us say a prayer for his conversion, shall we? Hail Mary……..

    He would not wish to die in this frame of mind and explain to Jesus, Who is The Truth, why he was busy denying truth and leading others into error.

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