The cornerstone of the common good

Last Saturday, Pope Francis welcomed to the Vatican leaders of the Italian Pro-Life movement the day before Italy’s annual Pro-Life day, held on the first Sunday of February since 1978. 

He thanked those present for their “attachment to the Catholic faith and to the Church, which renders you explicit and courageous witnesses of the Lord Jesus.” But he added, “At the same time, I appreciate the secular nature with which you present yourselves and operate, a secular nature founded on the truth of the good of life, which is a human and civil value and, as such, calls to be recognized by all persons of good will, of whatever religion or creed they belong.” 

Pro-Life convictions, though strengthened by faith, aren’t in the least sectarian, he stressed. They flow also from reason about the nature of the child in the womb — at the same age and with the same humanity every one of us once was — and the basic principle of ethics that the intentional slaughter of innocent human beings is always wrong. 

He also made a special appeal to those in public office, “so that, regardless of each one’s faith convictions, they will place as the cornerstone of the common good the defense of the life of those that are about to be born and make their entrance in society.” He prayed that they will not “let themselves be conditioned by a logic that looks only to personal success or immediate or partisan interests, but always looks beyond, and looks to all with the heart.” 

His reflections provide a Catholic lens with which to look at the very disturbing events that have just occurred in New York and Virginia and seem to be on the way in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. 

On January 22, the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as faithful Catholics in the United States were observing a day of prayer and penance in reparation for the nearly 60 million children who have legally been killed in the womb since that judicial travesty, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York was holding a jovial ceremony at the State House in Albany in which he signed the Reproductive Health Act, making abortion legal up to the moment of birth for any reason, eliminating the conscience rights of health care professionals not to participate in abortions, making it possible for abortions to be performed by those who are not doctors, and permitting babies who survive abortion and are born alive to be left to die without any medical assistance. 

Cuomo called the night “bittersweet”: sweet “because we won — after a long, long, long fight” to “ensure a woman’s right to access an abortion,” and “bitter” for two reasons: because “we shouldn’t be here” trying to defend abortion against Pro-Lifers who are trying to take society back 50 years to before Roe; and because the Reproductive Health Act should have gone into law eight years prior. 

But Cuomo wasn’t done celebrating. He signed an executive order requiring that the One World Trade Center’s 408-foot spire be lit in pink that night. He turned a monument rising up from the ashes of the deaths of 2,831 at the World Trade Center — including 11 children who were victims of the terrorists while still in their mother’s wombs — into a festive symbol for a grisly practice that has taken the lives of an average of 3,574 innocent children in their mother’s wombs a day since Roe. 

This is something quite far from what Pope Francis was saying those in public office should do: placing the defense of life of those about to be born at the cornerstone of the common good. This is essentially putting the destruction of life of those about to enter society as the cornerstone of one’s political platform. 

Cuomo likes to quote Pope Francis when it serves his purposes. In this case we can’t but help quote Pope Francis, who last October very bluntly likened abortion to “hiring a contract killer” to “take out a human life to solve a problem.” In this papal simile, Cuomo is the don of such a mafia culture. 

The crude and cruel designs of those who, like Cuomo, think abortion is a good thing to be celebrated was exposed beyond the euphemisms in Virginia on January 29, when Delegate Kathy Tran proposed Virginia House Bill 2491, which sought to replicate many of the things from Albany but focused in particular on making it easier for women to obtain third trimester abortions as long as a doctor performing the abortion said that it was good for a woman’s physical or mental health. 

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, interviewed on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program about the bill, was questioned about the provision stating that babies who survived an abortion would not be guaranteed life-saving care. He responded, “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” 

That’s infanticidal logic, which is the direct continuation of abortion logic. By this point, everyone knows that what is growing within a pregnant mother’s womb is just as human as the mother, at the very stage of existence that the mother once was in her own mother’s womb. Life has already begun and the human being is growing. Birth is an important stage in that life curve, but the difference between a child seconds before birth and seconds after is in fact quite small. There’s no logical ground to say that the first should have no rights and the second full rights. 

The logic of abortion is that those who are bigger, stronger, older, more politically connected should have the right to end the life of those who are smaller, more vulnerable, younger and without a voice. When we accept that, then why not infanticide for unwanted children? Why not let the “hired killers” have a bigger and easier target? 

To oppose infanticide, however, should logically require opposing abortion. Pretending that abortion is the equivalent of sloughing off a wart, or ending the life of some insignificant non-human species, is no longer possible. Abortion is plainly about the willful killing of another human being. 

Some, like Cuomo, Tran and Northam, think that such intentional killing of little children is something to be proud of, that the whole world should be lit in pink while the crimson blood of babies stains latex gloves and forceps. No longer is there the political need, they think, to say that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Now it should be celebrated as a great human rights advance and women should unabashedly brag about their abortions. The more, the merrier. 

What should happen to them? Many are calling for Cuomo and the other Catholics who supported the Reproductive Health Act to be excommunicated. But even if the bishops with the responsibility to make that call do so, it would not be enough. 

What’s really needed is for voters politically to excommunicate them from public office. 

The question is: What’s it going to take for voters, especially Catholic voters, to conclude that those who celebrate the destruction of human life in the womb as if it’s the Fourth of July, who desecrate monuments and landmarks to gloat about it, who think that babies who survive abortions should be allowed to die, do not represent their values — and do something about it? 

Anchor columnist Father Landry can be contacted at fatherlandry@catholicpreaching.com.


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