No doubt this story will play second fiddle to the 'Kerry being charged with heresy' blockbuster as reported by Jeff, (and well it should), but the transcript of the discussion between George Weigel and Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J. on June 23, sponsored by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, has been posted to their website. It's very good reading and covers the issue from all angles . . . and even Fr. Reese had something worthwhile to say on occasion.
Pertaining to the current discussion of "Catholics in Political Life", here's what Weigel had to say in response to the question of whether "Denver advanced the conversation in any significant way":
Yeah. I think it advanced it, Alan, in three ways at least. One is that this is, to my knowledge, the first time that the bishops of the United States - not the church, because this is quite clear in Evangelium Vitae, the pope's '95 encyclical on the life issues – but this is the first time that the U.S. bishops with a rather marked degree of clarity have said that to vote in favor of permissive abortion laws, and indeed to fail to work for the blunting of the effects of Roe v. Wade, is a form of cooperation with evil . . . I think that is the single most striking clarification here.
Secondly, I think underscoring this question of the personal responsibility of Catholics who know themselves to be in a defective state of communion with the church – underscoring their responsibility not to present themselves before the church, before the public and ultimately before God as if they were living in full communion with the church – that has certainly never been said quite as strikingly before.
Finally, I am very struck in several conversations with bishops I've had in the last 72 hours at their own intensified sense of resolve on this issue. I think when they got to Denver last Monday, there was, "Oh, dear, how can we get this over with as soon as possible?" By Friday, I think there's been a lot of conversations implying that this was one of the best meetings they've ever had, that there was a real discussion about this, there was a real sense of fraternal solidarity about it. And people who have not been notably vocal on this seemed to be willing to be vocal in a way that they have not been before.
So, perhaps there's some hope that more bishops will be following Burke's lead in the future.
Also, in the very last minutes of the Q&A session, Francis Kissling of Catholics for Free/[Pro] Choice" posed the challenge that legislators, in criminalizing abortion, might in doiing so be voting against other "faith groups" -- Methodists, Jews, Lutherans, Episcopalians -- who insist that "women can make this choice legitimately and morally."
The question was posed to Fr. Reese, who quickly deferred to Weigel:
MR. WEIGEL: Statements from the rapidly diminishing forces of mainline, old line, sideline Protestantism, which is what you're citing, seem to me of little consequence in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of evangelical Protestants in the United States who are not represented over at 110 Maryland Avenue are pro-life and have rendered a public moral judgment on all of this. And indeed, one of the great social phenomena of the last 30 years of American social history has been the meeting of evangelical Protestants and Catholics, two communities that had very little to do with each other for a very long time, in the pro-life movement.
To the leadership of mainline, old line, sideline Protestantism we say politely, you're mistaken. You just haven't thought this through seriously. You haven't thought it through seriously in terms of elementary embryology, in terms of logic, in terms of the fundamental requirements of justice, and in terms of 2,000 years of Christian tradition. You can go to the earliest records of the Christian movement from the period of the first disciples of Christ and see that one of the things that most distinguished Christians from the rest of society is that they did not commit infanticide. They did not abort their children. This is 2,000 years of Christian history, which seems to me to be a very, very heavy weight, a heavy burden of proof for serious theologians and serious religious leaders to overcome.
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.