instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, August 01, 2015

When you're right, you're right

I have a low opinion of the writings and statements of Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, as you can see if you search this blog. Based, admittedly, on very limited reading, I find her social commentary trite and narrow-minded; her theology has more grievance than Gospel about it. On those occasions when she does reject Democratic Party dogma in favor of Catholic teaching, she does so in a way that makes it much clearer that she remains within the Democratic fold than that she firmly believes Catholic teaching.

Here's an example, a quotation from a 2004 interview with Bill Moyers that Daily Kos featured yesterday:
The fact of the matter is that [the moral issues involved in the 2004 election are] all in contention with something else which is also a moral value and also equally important unless you put it completely out of your mind or your heart. For instance, let's look at the abortion question. I'm opposed to abortion.

I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
Note that Daily Kos didn't include the first paragraph, as their purpose was to weaponize the second paragraph against the Republican Party. Easily done, since Sr. Joan meant it to be an attack on the Republican Party. From what I've seen, her political opposition to abortion is purely theoretical, and always followed by a "but I support pro-abortionists anyway."

-- I say "political opposition" because I have no idea what she does on a personal level. I say "from what I've seen" in the hope that someone who knows her work better will prove me wrong. --

Her claim that these different moral issues are "equally important" is contrary to the teaching of popes and bishops. It's a shame, really, what people like Sr. Joan have done to the seamless garment position. If they hadn't abused it and treated it like a reversible garment, or a garment you can wear upside down, if they had been functionally as well as rhetorically both/and, if their deeds had matched their sanctimony, it would have been much harder for their opponents who are openly either/or to make as much headway as they've made in the last twenty-five years. Which doesn't excuse the openly either/or opponents, but, as I say, it's a shame.

All that said, in the second quoted paragraph Sr. Joan is absolutely, completely, unreservedly correct.

Even read as nothing but a purely rhetorical attack on the Republican Party, as Daily Kos intends it to be, it is an absolutely, completely, unreservedly legitimate attack on the Republican Party. Not on every registered Republican by name, perhaps not even on every elected Republican, but on the party as a whole.

For that matter, it can even be argued that Sr. Joan is more generous to a portion of the party than is necessary, the portion that talks the pro-birth talk but never walks the pro-birth walk.

It's as true today as it was in 2004 that we need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is. The prospects, however, of making more progress over the next eleven years than we did over the past eleven are not bright. Even within the Church, we'd have to have a broad conversation with THEM, with people like Sr. Joan (or whoever your THEM are like). US are more bothered that THEM can make short term political hay out of US's alleged shortcomings than by the fact that those allegations are so often so very legitimate. If US have a conversation with THEM, the babies will pay the price.

And so the babies will continue to pay the price.