You know, a few months ago, people were talking about how the pro-life movement needed “new strategy”, “reorganization,” etc. (some still are).
Whether one sees the Notre Dame Commencement controversy as primarily a “pro-life” issue or primarily a “Catholic identity” issue, it is definitely a “perfect storm.”
While the Left may try to dismiss the number of bishops who have spoken out, it is unprecedented, in my memory at least, to have so many bishops speaking so loudly for the cause of life.
Remember: one of the main reasons for the crisis in the Church over the past 40+ years has been the reluctance of many bishops to truly take a stand for anything too controversial.
Now, they’ll try to tell you that pacifism is “controversial” or that fighting for so-called “universal health care” is controversial, but not in the same way. The causes that liberals like to endorse are obvious “feel good” causses. But the basic approach of the so-called “Spirit of Vatican II” Catholics is to make everyone feel good, so long as the pews and collection baskets are filled.
And don’t forget federal funding for Catholic colleges and schools or for Catholic Charities. Water down the faith at those institutions as much as it takes to get the cash. That’s been the mode of operations for 40 years, and very few bishops have stood against the grain.
In the 1980’s, John Cardinal O’Connor and Bishop Thomas Welsh were just about it.
Then came Fabian Bruskewitz and John Keating. As the 90s progressed, we started seeing more of what were called “John Paul” bishops and archbishops: Eldin Curtiss, Charles Chaput, Francis George, John Francis Donoghue, etc. (Though they should probably be called “Agostino Cacciavillan Bishops”).
But, even on the more liberal causes where the US bishops are notorious for speaking out, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of quite so many bishops being outspoken as on Notre Dame.
This is a factor of several things. One, of course, is how the blogosphere has changed social discourse. Another is, as I’ve noted many times, how Pope Benedict has so obviously favored Archbishop Raymond Burke, and I sense that many bishops are simply reading “the signs of the times.”
However, all of this has been catalyzed by the current president, and especially by Notre Dame’s invitation.
But this has also brought a great unity to the pro-life movement. Fr. Frank Pavone, Norma McCorvey, Alan Keyes, and Randall Terry are among the “big names” converging on South Bend this weekend. Any one of them, even the rather imprudent Mr. Terry, would have been a far better graduation speaker for a Catholic university than Barack Obama.
If John McCain were president, it would have been “business as usual.”
God brings good out of evil. It was in responding to Malthus and Sanger that the Church gave us NFP. It was in responding to feminism that the Church came to talk about the true dignity of women. It was in responding to denial of Transubstantiation in the Middle Ages that the Church gave us Eucharistic Adoration and the Feast of Corpus Christi.
_Roe v. Wade_ gave us the pro-life movement. Barack Obama has given the pro-life movement a new vigor.
“Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers,” sang Garth Brooks, and there’s a lot of truth to that. We prayed for Bush to win the 2000 contest, and what happened? 8 years of complacency and no action. Pro-life leaders so desperate for a step in the right direction that they drooled over the “partial birth abortion” law, applauded Bush for funding embryonic stem cells if the cell lines were from embryos “that we already killed anyway,” that they applauded _Gonzalez v. Carhart_, a decision that upheld _Roe v. Wade_ and said abortino is a fundamental right. . . .
If McCain had won, it would have been more complacency, and I always figured that. I’ve said many times that, to effect real social change, there needs to be a drastic change in the party structure. I’ve always known it would take a Barack Obama to mobilize pro-lifers.
So, thank you, Fr. Jenkins!