Of course Francis devotees will point out it's because I'm a 'right wing partisan rad trad fundamentalist tribalist who probably trusts in guns rather than Jesus and secretly desires to increase the slaughter of innocents especially if they are swarthy darky types'. Quite a sentence there. But those are things I've seen written by defenders of Pope Francis. I thought it would pack a punch to see them written out like that.
Anyway, I still sit back and wonder why it doesn't feel right. Why, despite so many things that should be praiseworthy, it all feels, well, wrong. Again, assuming for a minute that I'm not all those things Francis fans have accused me of.
And then I read this. The whole point of the piece is that Francis has shaken up what it means to be pro-life. Fair enough. He certainly has done that. But as I read the piece, I couldn't help but notice something. Basically it took the issue of abortion, conceded abortion is bad, and then set out to point out how conservatives and Republicans are the ones who don't care about any of the other issues, who don't care about the poor, the immigrant, the environment, and by extension are likely the main causes of abortion in the first place. Their policies are what have brought about the problems that cause abortion and therefore they're the baddies.
And that's when it hit me. When it comes to this 'pro-life' shake up, I notice that Pope Francis doesn't give clear ideas about how to solve these problems he is pushing into the spotlight, such as helping the environment, immigration, gun control or poverty. He says there are problems. The Church has always said there are problems. But it's been understood that we can argue over how to solve them and still be in good faith. Certain things like gay sex, adultery, abortion - they were not open for debate. How to help the economy was open to debate. What is going on with the environment was for scientific minds to banter about. You could decide one idea was better than another, but at the end of the day it didn't make you a bad Catholic.
|A million times as [pro-life] as thou art!|
Since Pope Francis, like most popes, doesn't say 'Immigration is a pro-life issue, and this is the exact bill and solution I propose', he has allowed everyone who rejects traditional ideas or conservative viewpoints to rush in, slap their ideas, policies, bills, proposals and beliefs onto the issues and then insist that anyone who doesn't agree is resisting the Pope's call to care about Immigration. Those who reject the liberal Democratic understanding of the Immigration problem are automatically at fault, don't care about Immigrants, are likely racists, and on and on. And if it means we join the non-Catholic Left by suggesting that only now, under Pope Francis, do Catholics and the Catholic Church finally care about the poor, the environment, gun violence, immigration or justice in the first place, so be it. That's just part of the post-modern pie: We're the first generation who will finally set it right.
So that's it I think. The fact that Pope Francis makes it clear there are a whole host of issues beyond sexuality and abortion - no matter the body count in the wake of those issues - that are important, mixed with the typical papal reluctance to endorse actual solutions, has allowed those who have chomped at the bit to rework and reimagine the Church the chance they were waiting for to seize the debate and make it their own. You can't just say you care about the poor, but don't follow ideas such as Democratic Socialism or Liberal Democratic financial proposals. Because if you try, then it just shows you are no longer a good Catholic who listens to the Pope and trusts Jesus.
The irony is that in order to do this they have had to set abortion and sexuality aside as mere issues with which we can lovingly disagree. No matter the horror, death, suffering and misery, they've adopted the view that Pope Francis blames these things on the greater issues for which they, and they alone, have solutions. Which is why, even if they appear to be going soft on abortion while promoting their political or economic theories, they can still proclaim that they are the ones who are truly pro-life, as opposed to those of us who still think abortion is a non-negotiable and that theories on how to help the poor and the immigrant are up for debate.
The article says we can go deeper than the shallow abortion and gay sex debate when it comes to being pro-life. But based on what is written, it seems that doing so requires a rejection of Republican proposals and conservative ideals. It requires admitting the liberals and Democrats hold the solutions that alone are up to the true pro-life clarion call. Only then can we truly be pro-life, only then can we be as pro-life as they are. Whether this is also the view of Pope Francis remains to be seen. But that it is the view of not only secularists and the Left outside of the Church, but a growing number of Catholics, can't be ignored.