In a recent interview, the Pope appeared to be offering some kind of olive branch in his comments about gay marriage, abortion and birth control.
The New York Times picked up on his message with a piece titled, “Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control.”
I think I understand the Pontiff’s concerns about the dangers of becoming so focused on one or two issues that we lose sight of other pressing matters. But I also believe that his words were unfortunate, unnecessary and perhaps even misguided.
Let me explain.
On one level, the Pope played into the hands of a deceitful effort to paint the Church as overly preoccupied with things like abortion and homosexuality. Yet remember that the Church has largely responded to the obsessive preoccupation of liberal media with promoting abortion rights and gay marriage.
The Church is most often responding to the demands of liberal politics that the public conforms to only one view on these subjects. The Church is responding to a radical agenda on the left that uses the puppets of mainstream media to promote an ideology that they reinforce with deceptive polls.
We must not fall for efforts to promote a false image of Christians as obsessed with abortion and gays. We must not be blindly manipulated into misguided self-criticism.
Attorney David French summarized the issue well, writing that, “The criticism is so common that it’s often internalized and adopted by the church itself. Similar to our reaction to another leftist refrain (“Christians care about children until they’re born”), we act as if the critique is legitimate — as if it’s the result of some kind of empirical, good-faith analysis of Christian action in America. But it’s not. It is, pure and simple, a talking point. And it’s false. Demonstrably false.”
French argued that, “American Christians, in fact, are ‘obsessed’ with helping the poorest and weakest members of our society.”
“While the full scope and sweep of all Christian charitable activity (both in donations and volunteer time) would require book-length treatment, we can at least begin to isolate one critical factor: money. Our obsessions are reflected in our expenditures. Where do Christians put their charitable dollars? What is their charitable obsession?”
“We can find part of the answer by looking at the budgets of the largest and most influential Christian organizations. A website called Guidestar publishes the tax filings of most charitable organizations, so register (it’s free) and take a tour of Form 990s. First, you’ll notice that Christians do give lots of money to what I’d call “pure” culture war organizations, but not as much as the Left.”
A larger concern
On another level, given the gravity of abortion, why should we apologize for being obsessed with protecting unborn life? The occupant of a mother’s womb is a human life with the potential of becoming a mature human being. It’s a verifiable fact that abortion does not merely terminate a pregnancy; it terminates the life of a baby.
If you have children, look closely at them and remind yourself that had you chosen to abort any of them at any point from conception to birth, you would have ended the life of your child.
More than 90 percent of induced abortions are performed for non-medical reasons. The large majority of surgical abortions are performed during the 7th through 10th week of pregnancy. By this time, a baby’s heartbeat, arms, legs and fingers are identifiable.
The thought of a mother’s womb becoming a baby’s death chamber is unconscionable. Perhaps our apology should be to the millions of babies whose lives should have mattered more to us.
But, here too, we must not forget that Christians are the majority (by far) on the front lines — leading the way by caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of young women facing unplanned pregnancies.