By Kathleen Gilbert
Updated 6:17pm EST
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Proponents of feminism within a religious tradition play a crucial role in subverting “religious fundamentalism” in Catholicism, according to a member of the pro-abortion group Catholics for the Right to Decide.
Elfriede Harth, Secretariat of European Parliament Study Group on Religion and Secularity and a Spanish member of Catholics for the Right to Decide (whose U.S. partner is Catholics for Choice), made the remarks at this month's Women Deliver conference in Washington, D.C.
The conference was largely a push for population control in developing countries worldwide through contraception and abortion funding.
Harth named the orthodox Catholic movement Opus Dei as a formidable opponent to Catholics attempting to promote liberal doctrines within the Church, and said that religious feminists should work to “analyze and demystify religious fundamentalism.”
“Religious feminist(s) play a crucial role in organizing resistance to religious fundamentalism,” said Harth.
But perhaps more revealing were Harth's subsequent comments during a discussion with audience members following the breakout session. There, Harth discussed her group's conflict with the Church hierarchy over the use of the name “Catholic,” admitting that “they don't like us at all.”
“They're always trying to say we're not real Catholics, which is wrong, because the criterion to say you're Catholic is that you're baptized. That's all,” she said. “And I don't accept that other people pretend that they define what is Catholicism. You know? The way the Vatican presents Catholicism is incomplete.” She went on to claim that the Church suppresses discussion of “freedom of conscience” because the hierarchy is “so afraid that the institution breaks down.”
On the topic of abortion, Harth called it “not true” that legislators who vote for abortion laws are excommunicated from the Church. “'Oh, legislators who vote for abortion laws they are excommunicated,' [according to some bishops,] but then when you go and tell them that's not true, then they have to retract. 'Oh yeah, you're right,'” she said.
According to Catholic moral teaching, substantial material cooperation in an intrinsic evil merits the punishment accorded to the deed itself; in addition, Section 915 of the Catholic Church's Canon Law states that those persisting in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. Because of this rule, Archbishop Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican's highest court, has repeatedly admonished bishops that pro-abortion politicians must be denied Communion.
Ultimately, said Harth, a woman has a right to abort because she “has a right to have a good life” and she does not have “the right to ruin it.” “And if a pregnancy is going to ruin her life in any way, she has a right to get the abortion. She has the right. She has an obligation to protect her life from being ruined. … Because you owe this respect to yourself because you're a child of God. You should feel guilty if you don't,” she said.
Asked about the unborn child's rights, she answered that the issue was “important” to the choice to abort. “If you have an abortion, there is a fetus that will be killed. No way. This is true. But … for us, death is not the end of the story,” said Harth. “And this unborn child or fetus or whatever you want to call it is … well, we do not know what God is going to do with this creature. God has a lot of mercy, maybe…we don't know.”
Afterwards, one audience member told LifeSiteNews.com that, as a practicing Catholic, she had felt “guilty” about promoting abortion but was reconsidering the matter thanks to Harth's justifications.
American Life League president Judie Brown called the statements “ridiculous,” and said Harth's outrageous statements about Church teaching reveal the deficiency of many Catholic bishops in failing firmly to expound the Church's teaching on abortion.
“I think what she's actually telling us as schooled Catholics is that the Church has done a very bad job in teaching precisely what the Church does and does not teach,” Brown told LifeSiteNews.com. “There is no person – no human being – who defines what Catholicism is, it's set forth in the Creed, it's set forth in the Catechism, it's set forth by Christ himself.”
“And when you choose to disagree with a basic fundamental teaching of the Church, you're not Catholic – no matter what you say you are,” she added.
“In essence this woman, Harth, is either totally uncatechized; either that or she's staying within the Church with the expressed purpose of destroying it from within,” said Brown, who expressed dismay over the massive scandal given by Harth and other dissident Catholics who convince others to abandon genuine Church teaching.
“In their confusion, they're guiding these souls to Hell – that's exactly what they're doing,” she said.