Saturday, January 31, 2015

Approaching the Sinner: Reaching Out in Love? Or in Judgment?

I can understand the reactions of the current rebellion in the Church—I don’t condone it, but I understand it. There is a dual reaction to anything that sounds funny. There is fear that those who are dissenters against Church teaching will get their way and change the teaching of the Church. There is also anger over the apparent inactivity of those responsible for leading the Church when it comes to these dissenters. When you think of it this way, it’s easy to start thinking of the Church in terms of “good guys” and “bad guys.” This is entirely natural.

However, even though it is natural, it is not what we are called to be as members of the Catholic Church. We’re called to take part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-19):

18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.* And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

God does not rejoice in the death of the sinner (See Ezekiel 18:31-32 and Ezekiel 33:11), and wants their salvation. He also sends His Church to reach them. In different ages, the Church can use different means to reach them. While individually we may have a preference for a specific method, we need to recognize that ultimately the teaching authority of the Church sets the tone, and we need to avoid undermining their work.

What we always need to keep in mind is that our task is not to take part in the condemning of sinners to damnation, but to reach out to them in love, telling them of the need for salvation, but letting them know that they are loved. At times, we need to admonish and warn the sinner. But if we don’t show our love for the sinner, instead giving them a sense of “you sinners disgust me,” then we will not be effective in our ministry.

Pope Francis gets a lot of flack here. Some Catholics accuse him of being too soft, too lenient when it comes to dealing with the sinners. But I am reminded of a similar story about another man named Francis—St. Francis de Sales. Consider this from an 1887 book on saints speaking about St. Francis de Sales and his approach as bishop of Geneva.

At times the exceeding gentleness with which he received heretics and sinners almost scandalized his friends, and one of them said to him, “Francis of Sales will go to Paradise, of course; but I am not so sure of the Bishop of Geneva: I am almost afraid his gentleness will play him a shrewd turn.” “Ah,” said the saint, “I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove, that is, gentleness itself. And are you wiser than God?”

 

[From: John Gilmary Shea, Pictorial Lives of the Saints (New York; Cincinnati; Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1887), 67–68.] 

The concern for showing love for the sinner was not an example of “modernism,” or other errors. 

Unfortunately, some people fall into the other error. They believe that if we are called to love, we cannot say that what they do is wrong. That’s never been taught by the Church at all, and those who accuse (or praise) the Pope of saying so have missed the point. Our Lord Himself has spoken about the dangers of hell and the need to repent. In Matthew 7, (the chapter where He warns about judging—so often taken out of context), He warned:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. 14 How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

and:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.* Depart from me, you evildoers.’

But Jesus, even when warning of the reality of hell, never stopped loving the sinners. He loved the tax collector. He also loved the Pharisee.

So, this makes me think about how we are acting in the blogosphere and in the comboxes. What kind of witness are we leaving? Do we show that we love, and desire the salvation of, Obama or Pelosi? Or the person struggling with same sex attraction? Or the atheist? Or how about Fr. Hans K√ľng? Cardinal Kasper? Fr. Richard McBrien (who died recently) How that bishop or pastor you can’t stand? Do we pray for them? And by pray, I don’t mean “Oh Lord, please make Bishop So-and-so not be an idiot!” Do we show our love for these people in our prayers?

I don’t say this judgmentally. Lord knows I have been rude and sarcastic. I get pissed off with the Super Catholic who thinks they cannot err while the Pope can. So I certainly need to learn to practice what I am preaching here. Indeed, next week I might be back to being sarcastic and mocking of those I disagree with, and I certainly need your prayers.

I just ask that all of us who witness the Catholic faith, whether face to face, by blog, by Facebook or Twitter (or whatever else is popular out there)—let’s remember that how we act is a part of our witness as part of the Great Commission. And let’s pray for each other as well.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Rights vs. Freedom? That's a Distorted Argument!

I encountered a blog which raised an interesting point on the way the media is framing the concerns over religion and the demands to recognize same sex “marriage.” It’s an article worth reading, because it points out the propaganda used in this debate. While I doubt I will do as well as they have, I’ll do my best to offer my own thoughts on this, hoping that it serves a purpose as well.

The basic media argument is that the dispute is between “gay rights” and religious freedom.” It is asserted that rights must take precedence over freedoms. Therefore the religious freedoms have to accept the rights of others. You can replace “gay rights” with “reproductive rights” and it’s the same argument. Those people who believe their religion requires them to stand up and oppose something as morally wrong are portrayed as wanting special privileges and are opposed to equal rights for all. When argued in this way, it becomes easy to make a person think they must support the “rights” over the “beliefs,” even if they don’t like that particular “right."

The problem is, this is a “have you stopped beating your wife?” proposition (a complex question fallacy). The classification of rights and freedoms are done by those who are predisposed to a certain outcome, and people are falling for it. We have courts who are labeling a preferred position as a “right” and the opposing position as a “freedom” or an “opinion.” So if the media puts the issue in the concept of rights vs. freedoms or opinions, the Christian is going to come across looking cold hearted or bigoted.

What people who frame the issue this way forget is that religious freedom is an actual (as opposed to made up right—the right to conduct our lives as we believe we are morally obligated to live. That’s not the same thing as living our lives as we like to live. I may like the idea of not having laws about theft affect me when I’m short of cash, but that’s not a right. However, not being forced to do something I think is morally evil, that is a right—a right that people have gone to prison over rather than do what they think is morally wrong. 

The problem is, people tend to misunderstand the concept of what freedom of religion is—it’s one of a list of things the government cannot interfere with, according to the 1st Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First section of the 14th Amendment makes clear that the states cannot interfere with rights either (so you can’t argue that this only applies to Congress). So, in effect, the governments (national, state or local) cannot force a person to do what their religion teaches is evil, cannot silence them from speaking out on what they believe is wrong, publish openly on what they think is wrong, cannot prevent them from peaceably assembling to oppose things they believe to be morally wrong and to petition the government for redress. This isn’t a potpourri of various rights that lumps unrelated things together. It’s recognizing that people cannot be compelled by the state to participate in what they believe is evil, nor silence them from opposing injustice.

By seeking to portray religion as a “mere” freedom, the tactic allows people to deny a real Constitutional Right in favor of an invented one (“right to same sex marriage,” or the “right to reproductive freedom”). By that token, the freedom of speech is merely a freedom, as is the freedom of the press. If the government can set aside religious belief on the grounds that it is merely a “freedom,” then the government can set aside the freedom of speech as well.

So, recognizing this tactic, we need to stop letting people get away with using it. When the person tries to contrast their “rights” against our “freedoms” or “opinions,” we need to remind them that this is a false contrast and our concerns are protected by rights. While that may not convince the courts or legislative bodies or the Presidency, it will at least force people to recognize that the government is violating rights. Regardless of their opinions that get turned into law, we must stand up for what we believe God wants us to do, seeking to help others understand why this applies to all.

(Edited 1/31/15 to clarify a line which sounded like I thought these modern inventions were rights. Sorry for the vagueness)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Here Comes Hypocrisy (yet again...)

A tale of two cakes: Colorado's far-reaching religious freedom fight :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Hypocrisy

Remember the case where a baker was sued for refusing to provide a wedding cake for a ceremony involving a same sex “marriage” and it was considered a violation of civil rights? Well, a counter-case is going on where an individual targeted a bakery requesting a cake with anti-gay messages on it. The baker in this second case was willing to provide a cake, but not the messages on the case. The second baker was giving the same reason that the first baker gave—being forced to do something they believed was morally offensive.

However, while in the first case the baker was considered to be a bigot, in the second case, the baker was seen as defending his rights. I’m sure that in both cases the bakeries were set up for the purposes of creating lawsuits. But the treatment of the two cases are different.

In both cases the business owners want the right to not be forced to do something they find offensive. This leaves three options:

  1. They can recognize the fact that nobody can be compelled to do something which they find morally evil by the courts and lawmakers.
  2. They can force every belief to be scrutinized by the state for validity.
  3. They can behave in a partisan manner and support views they agree with, while ignoring those they dislike.

Option #1 is the just solution. Let businesses act in accordance with their moral values and don’t let the state force its way into becoming the arbiter of right and wrong. Unfortunately, this option would force governments (local, state, federal) to tolerate views they disagree with.  Option #2 would be worthy of a dictatorship, but not the USA. Option #3 would be sheer hypocrisy, injustice done for the sake of helping those one liked while using the law to silence those one disliked.

(If I were to bet however, my money would be that #3 is the ultimate result)

So here’s the thing. If you want to be just, those who make and enforce law have to let the Christian businesses have the right to refuse to do things they find offensive. Otherwise, this is behavior worthy of a dictatorship, not a free nation.

I’ve seen people argue that the two cases are not the same thing. That the Christian bakery is practicing intolerance, while the other bakery is opposing it. But this is an assertion which assumes what needs to be proven—that the Christian belief is based on the intolerance of a person instead of on the moral conviction that some behaviors are wrong. These two things are different, and before we are indicted of hatred, the charge needs to be proven that this is our motive, not that this motive be assumed.

I’ve seen people argue that the case of the Christian bakery was “only” remote cooperation with something deemed wrong and so it could be compelled, whole the secular bakery would be forced into direct cooperation, and so it could not be compelled. But that’s making the state the arbiter of what is and what isn’t legitimate religious and moral teaching. The Christian bakery believes that taking part in providing for a same sex “wedding” is wrong and would cause scandal by giving the impression that they supported this just as much as the secular bakery would believe this was wrong and scandalous.

I’ve also seen people argue that by the very fact of saying same sex acts are wrong, we are judging people, which is itself hateful. But by that token, claiming we are behaving wrongly by opposing same sex relationships is also judging people. By our saying certain actions are wrong, we are not contradicting our belief that we are still called to love the person who commits them. But the person who says “tolerate others you disagree with,” is contradicting their own beliefs when they refuse to tolerate us and our beliefs.

Christians aren’t being hypocritical in professing an act as being morally wrong, because they recognize the difference between the sin and the human being. The Catechism says:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347)

We’re not the Westboro Baptist Church. We don’t think that people with a same sex attraction are damned for that fact. But we do believe homosexual acts are morally wrong and must be avoided by people who would live in right relation with Christ. We do believe that marriage is intended to be between one man and one woman as Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has said (Matthew 19:4-6):

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

We will do our best to witness to this truth, and show people why they need to heed this, and yes we will seek to pass laws which reflect true morality, as opposed to judicial diktat. But we’re not motivated by hate in doing so, and we’re not violating anyone’s rights in doing so.

The same cannot be said about those who would force a Christian bakery to do what it believed to be morally wrong.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Emotion and Reason (and, no, they're not necessarily in Opposition)

I had a strange experience this morning. In response to a comment I made on Facebook supporting the distinction the Pope made against the misinterpretations of his words concerning responsible parenting, a couple of people took offense thinking the Pope and I were condemning “unplanned” pregnancies. It gave me a little insight as to what it was like to be the Pope when people start accusing you of saying something you did not say and never intended people to take away from what was said. These people were angry and because of their anger they were incorrectly judging what was said. It is a common problem that we need to be made aware of.

I think the problem is, Western society has moved away from rationally looking to understand what was actually intended and instead treats the emotions that arise from a statement as an infallible interpretation over truth or error. In other words, we see a statement that evokes a passion, and automatically assume that how we emotionally perceive it as being what the speaker or writer meant. The problem is, passions aren’t infallible. On the contrary, they are very fallible and easy to manipulate—that’s the entire purpose of propaganda. 

That’s not to say that we need to be like the Vulcans of Star Trek. Emotion, by itself is not good or bad. What makes them good or bad is what we do as a result of our emotions. The Catechism speaks about emotions in this way:

1768 Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.

So, anger (for example) that rouses us to act for what is right is good. anger which rouses us to hate, judge rashly or attack others is bad.

But sometimes, emotions can be misapplied. If a person misunderstands something, it is easy to think something is when it is not, or is not when it is. In such cases, emotion can be misapplied. That’s how people can believe that a dictator has people’s well being in mind and follow him to destruction. That’s also how people can believe that Church teaching is based on hatred.

In fact, there’s a logical fallacy which is known as the appeal to emotion. It involves the association of a feeling with a claim. X makes us feel good, so X must be true. Y makes us feel bad, so Y must be false. But a skilled speaker can lead people to think in a certain way. They can make people think that marriage is about emotional happiness, and whatever interferes with that happiness must be wrong. As a result, the Church teaching on divorce/remarriage or same sex relationships is portrayed as interfering with emotional happiness, and therefore must be called “against love,” evoking negative emotions against the Church teaching.

I also see it happen in cases of fear. Let’s face it. There is dissent from Catholics, including open defiance of Church teaching by politicians who then insist they are good Catholics. That dissent is wrong, and it is an appropriate emotion to be angered to defend the Church—provided we do it in a morally good way. But the appeal to emotion can also be used here. If one attempts to manipulate emotion to treat a different way of expressing truth as if it were dissent, then people can be led by their emotion of anger to oppose a legitimate teaching of the truth. The teachings of Vatican II and the words of Pope Francis have been the target of angry Catholics who have been led to think of this as error fomenting dissent.

We need to realize that while emotion is not wrong in itself, it cannot be used by itself to form our reactions to things. We also need reason to help us find out what is true. Reason can be defined as the ability to “think, understand, and form judgements logically.” The Catechism speaks of reason as an important part of determining right and wrong:

1704 The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection “in seeking and loving what is true and good.”7 (339; 30)

1705 By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an “outstanding manifestation of the divine image.”8 (1730)

1706 By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God which urges him “to do what is good and avoid what is evil.”9 Everyone is obliged to follow this law, which makes itself heard in conscience and is fulfilled in the love of God and of neighbor. Living a moral life bears witness to the dignity of the person. (1776)

So, in determining right and wrong, it’s not enough to have emotions about what we see or hear or read. We need to use reason to see whether we understand properly what is going on, and accurately form judgments on these events. When we properly understand, our emotions can be a driving force to right wrongs, or care for others, or other good things. But when we don’t properly understand what we see, hear or read, our emotions can be like an angry mob which acts destructively.

So, it is good to use our emotions and passions to contribute to a good action. But we need our reason to avoid having them contribute to an evil action. It’s something that we need to remember. Emotions can be manipulated and they can be wrongly applied. So we must, by an act of will, control our emotions and not give in to any impulse that comes along.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"This is a Rebellious People..."

For this is a rebellious people, 

deceitful children, 

Children who refuse 

to listen to the instruction of the Lord;

10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see”; 

to the prophets, “Do not prophesy truth for us; 

speak smooth things to us, see visions that deceive!

11 Turn aside from the way! Get out of the path! 

Let us hear no more 

of the Holy One of Israel!” (Isaiah 30:9-11)

Things are really getting out of hand, and falling much faster than I would have expected, but to some extent, I have to say I am not totally surprised that they are getting out of hand. Just not this fast and this irrationally. What we are seeing is the Pope besieged on both sides now. Conservative Catholics have been opposed to him almost from the word “Go,” determined to establish he is a liberal—if not a heretic. Liberal Catholics are beginning to turn on him now that his words in the Philippines have demonstrated he is solidly a Catholic. Both sides firmly believe he is in the “other” camp.
 
Pope Misinterpreted(If you want to know where I stand, regarding the Pope, I stand right here)
 
He is blamed for how others have misinterpreted his words. The allegations are that if he spoke clearly, people would not have misinterpreted him. But that is false reasoning which overlooks that the vast majority of people do not get their words from Vatican Information Service or Zenit or the like, and especially not from transcripts. They get their news from the secular media, which has routinely reported soundbites, ignoring the concept the quote (or partial quote) has come from. Every single time we have looked at a soundbite in context, it has turned out that the secular media has gotten it wrong. For example...
 
The Pope did not say “Who am I to judge?” in the sense of saying he was in favor of same sex relationships. He was saying it in the sense of speaking about a priest with a notorious past who repented. He did not say “breed like rabbits” and speak against large families. He spoke about a specific problem—some people who say they will indiscriminately have children without considering the consequences because they “Trust in” the Lord, which is basically “putting the Lord to the Test” (see Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:12). He did not call for recognizing same sex “marriage” and divorce and remarriage at the extraordinary synod of 2014. He called for finding ways of reaching out to people in these situations. He didn’t condemn capitalism as a system. He called for places where it was causing harm to reform.
 
I could go on and on, and I’m sure the media will...
 
In short, nothing that outraged Catholics was actually said as they interpreted the words to mean, but they still hold these statements against him. It’s even gotten to the point that when the Pope praised mothers and grandmothers for their role in passing on the faith, some people went so far as accusing him of ignoring or denigrating men!
 
But since these people are saying of something that is not so that it is so, we can say they do not speak the truth. The question is, do they know it is not the truth when they say it? Or do they just refuse to consider they could be misinterpreting him? Now, I am not God, so I cannot speak to these people and their intentions. But I can say that if they know they are speaking something that is not true, then that is lying—strongly condemned by the Catechism (CCC #2483-2487). But if they do not know whether what they are saying is true or not, then they are making a rash judgment—also condemned by the Catechism (CCC #2477-2478) and, given how these false accusations are damaging the reputation of the Holy Father, it can also be calumny (CCC #2479) if it is done with the hopes of discrediting him.
 
It's at the point where I think it is far more than just hostility to the misinterpreted words. I suspect that some people dislike the fact that the Holy Father is affirming Church teaching that is unpopular to their political views and seek to discredit him to justify their own disobedience. Some people out there point to the misrepresentations that make him seem indifferent to Church teaching or denigrating people or fomenting heresy, and say that the Pope can’t be trusted, and therefore his teachings can be ignored. Such people seem to be behaving as rebels. They don’t want to hear the unpopular Church teachings—I have heard some people say “Why doesn’t the Pope talk about this instead?” But the point is, if we accuse those Catholics who set aside the teachings on sexual morality as being “cafeteria Catholics,” then we must not be guilty of the same charge. Yes abortion, contraception and homosexual acts are sins. But they are not the only sins. If we choose to set aside teachings on other areas, then we are hypocrites.
 
So it’s important not to be a rebellious people. If we find ourselves challenged by a statement of the Pope, the first thing to do is to ask whether he actually said what was alleged. If it is not, we have to let go of any wrongly placed hurt and not blame him for misrepresentation. Second, we have to ask whether we are upset because his words are challenging us. If they are, then we should consider whether our problem is with God, rather than with the Vicar of Christ. When he teaches, we must listen.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

TFTD: It's Time For Catholics to Stop Rashly Judging the Pope

Facepalm Catholics

After the outrage and the Je suis un lapin Catholique (according to Google Translate, “I am a rabbit Catholic,” a supposed protest against what was actually a misquote of the Pope) posts, we have confirmation. Those who were offended at the Pope’s words got it wrong. In the article, "Pope Francis surprised by misunderstanding of his words on family :: Catholic News Agency (CNA),” we see that the Pope in no way meant to speak against large families.

Before I saw the actual transcripts, I was pretty sure I knew what it meant when I first saw what we now know was a media misquote. The transcripts confirm it. But that didn’t stop some Catholics from being angry at the Pope. Once again, people said that the Pope was to blame for speaking unclearly. Others believed the misquote was a condemnation of large families.

I have to say, I am tired of seeing this story repeated ever since his election to the Papacy. Every time there is a “shocking" story, it turns out that that the Pope was misquoted. The transcripts show that the media has taken their soundbites out of context, or misattributed what someone else said to him or misunderstood what he was even talking about. Yet every time I see some Catholics get up in arms and blame the Pope, disturbing the peace of those Catholics who want to trust but don’t know what to make of all the outrage. In some cases, this behavior could be considered Rash Judgment, condemned in the Catechism. The Catechism in paragraph 2478, quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola, warns us:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

But in many comboxes and in blogs, we are seeing that some Catholics aren’t ready to give a favorable interpretation to the Pope’s words. They don’t seek to ask him how he understands his words. They assume he is wrong and even if that were true (it isn’t) then fail to correct in love. Instead we get people treating the Pope like some idiot uncle or a heretic out to change Church teaching.

It’s time for Catholics to treat the Pope with the love and respect he deserves as the Holy Father. It’s time for them to consider that the media got it wrong, not that the Pope. It’s time to get the facts first before blaming him. If we were to trust God more in His promise to protect the Church and put less trust in the media to report the Pope accurately, I think we would find we were less alarmed about the state of the Church.

Pope Francis faith in God

Thursday, January 22, 2015

TFTD: My Moment of Conversion on Abortion...and Other Things

Cvggo conv2

Way back in my early 20s, I was very ignorant about by faith. My morality was based on a very partisan hyper-patriotism instead of right and wrong (I even supported the concept of the ends justify the means—a concept I condemn today). It was the 1980s, and things like supporting a strong national defense, while opposing communism seemed important. Things like abortion seemed to be a small issue. Yeah, I had a vague sense it was wrong and I was never pro-abortion, but if you pressed me on it, I probably would have rather compromised on that than on the Strategic Defense Initiative. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I tell this to show what I changed from.

I recall my moment of conversion well. It was 1989. My habit in my undergraduate years was to spend a lot of time reading newspapers and magazines to see what the political trends were (while I have a Masters in theology, my BA was actually in International Relations). In reading one article in Time magazine, I came across a discussion on late term abortion and how some abortionists would kill the baby aborted alive through what the article euphemistically called “aggressive neglect."

That sickened me. As muddled as I was in my thinking on abortion, I could realize that once the baby was outside of the mother, that was murder. I believe that God used that moment to reach me, because I realized: If the baby was alive outside of the mother, it would have to be alive inside the mother before birth, (I was still thinking of the unborn baby as an it instead of a he/she) and abortion must be condemned as long as the fetus is alive.

That’s when I believe God asked me a question—How far back was the baby alive before being born? 

I realized I did not know, and because I did not know, I could not in good conscience tolerate abortion at any time. It was better to err on the side of caution and never support abortion than to risk murdering a human being.

The moment of conversion on abortion was a sort of mental Road to Damascus moment for me, showing me that what I thought was right and what was right were often two different things. It was the beginning in thinking of things as God was calling us to consider. It was a long road. In the 26 years since that day, I grew in understanding of the issues of life, recognizing that the Church teaching needed to be followed because what she taught was true. Life begins at the moment of conception, and the right to life was the fundamental right. In embracing the Church teaching on abortion, I was gradually able to learn about and reject my flawed concepts of morality and see the Church as mother and teacher. In short I learned to trust the Church over myself when I felt a conflict.

I reflect on this on the 42nd Annual March for Life. God was merciful to me to provide me with a moment of conversion. I pray that He may provide the same to others who are as muddled in their thinking as I was.