Princeton Prof: Scandal of Pro-Abortion Catholics Greater in Cultural Effect than Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal
By Peter J. Smith
UNITED STATES, August 13, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Princeton professor has warned that the scandal of pro-abortion Catholics, and its cover-up by bishops, threatens more damage to the Catholic Church than the abhorrent scandal of pedophile priests hiding behind their Roman collars to perpetrate crimes against children.
Robert George, a McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, writes in an article published in the ecumenical magazine First Things that, unlike the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the tolerated scandal of prominent anti-life Catholics continues to engender far more insidious effects upon society.
"Nothing undermines the cause of justice and cultural reform and renewal more than the bad example of prominent Catholics who have made themselves instruments of what Pope John Paul II bluntly described as ‘the culture of death,’" states George.
"The scandal given by these individuals over the past thirty years, particularly with respect to the exposure of the unborn to abortion and, more recently, embryo-destructive research, is far greater in its cultural effects even than the horrific-(the word is not too strong)-scandal of clergy sex abuse."
If the sex scandals have enough power to make many Catholics "lose confidence in the reliability of the Church as a teacher of truth, particularly in the moral domain" then the Church’s toleration of publicly proclaimed pro-abortion Catholics is much worse, especially when the culture is in grave peril.
"The Church doesn’t need fundamental transformation; it needs to be about the business of transforming us," warns George. "For better or worse, culture is character-shaping and, thus, person-forming. That’s why the task of cultural renewal and reform is part of the Christian task-an essential part."
George writes that Catholics should know that the Church faces both "danger" and an "opportunity for a special kind of greatness, the greatness that comes only in times of the most profound danger."
"Critical (possibly irreversible) decisions will be made in the next year or two" writes George, indicating that the particular decisions to which he is referring will occur in the field of marriage and bioethics. Both issues, he says, "will go one way or the other depending on the posture and actions of Catholics."
"If the Catholic community is engaged on these issues, working closely with evangelical Christians, observant Jews, and people of goodwill and sound moral judgment of other faiths and even of no particular religious faith, grave injustices and the erosion of central moral principles will be, to a significant extent, averted. Indeed, with respect to both marriage and the sanctity of human life, earlier reverses may themselves be reversed. If, on the other hand, the Catholic community compromises itself, abdicates its responsibilities, and sits on the sidelines, the already deeply wounded institution of marriage will collapse and the brave new world of biotechnology will transform procreation into manufacture, and nascent human life into mere disposable ‘research material.’"
However George continues to point out that bishops and pastors must make a decision to lead Catholics in the culture war, not by becoming politicians themselves, but by exhorting lay Catholics to fulfill their responsibilities in the political arena and other cultural dimensions.
"[The bishops] should never hesitate to reprove us when we fail in our obligations to defend human life, marriage, and the common good, as far too many Catholics, including Catholics prominent in public life, have done and, alas, are doing," says George.
"The bishops must make clear that being a faithful Catholic means many things; but among the things it means is bearing unambiguous witness to the sanctity of human life. By bearing such witness, Catholics can seize the opportunity now before them to renew and reform the culture."