Do Not Turn the Prolife Movement into a Heresy – EpicPew

Do Not Turn the Prolife Movement into a Heresy

From time to time in the history of the Church, certain Christians have taken some good thing out of the deposit of Faith and fallen down in adoration before it as the only good thing there is. This is known as “heresy” and G.K. Chesterton describes its genesis:

“First, [the heretic] picked out some mystical idea from the Church’s bundle or balance of mystical ideas.  Second, he used that one mystical idea against all the other mystical ideas. Third (and most singular), he seems generally to have had no notion that his own favourite mystical idea was a mystical idea, at least in the sense of a mysterious or dubious or dogmatic idea. With a queer uncanny innocence, he seems always to have taken this one thing for granted.  He assumed it to be unassailable, even when he was using it to assail all sorts of similar things. The most popular and obvious example is the Bible.  To an impartial pagan or sceptical observer, it must always seem the strangest story in the world; that men rushing in to wreck a temple, overturning the altar and driving out the priest, found there certain sacred volumes inscribed “Psalms” or “Gospels”; and (instead of throwing them on the fire with the rest) began to use them as infallible oracles rebuking all the other arrangements.  If the sacred high altar was all wrong, why were the secondary sacred documents necessarily all right? If the priest had faked his Sacraments, why could he not have faked his Scriptures?  Yet it was long before it even occurred to those who brandished this one piece of Church furniture to break up all the other Church furniture that anybody could be so profane as to examine this one fragment of furniture itself. People were quite surprised, and in some parts of the world are still surprised, that anybody should dare to do so.”

There are lots of examples of this.  Arius took the majesty of God the Father as the only thing that matters and used it to attack the deity of Jesus.  Calvinists took the power of God as the greatest thing and used it to attack the goodness of God and the freedom of human beings.  Modern atheists take the lawfulness of creation, knowable through science, as the only thing that matters and use it to attack the idea that there is a Lawgiver.  Mystics have taken the mysteriousness of God as a weapon to attack reason and rationalists have taken reason as a weapon to attack the mystical.

The kingship of God has been used as a weapon to attack democratic forms of government and the liberty of the people of God has been used as a weapon to attack the kingship of God.  God’s omnipotence has been invoked to deny that human effort matters and the human power to make choices and act has been used as a weapon against the idea that God orders human affairs.  We are creatures who love to select from what God has given us and turn it into an idol.  And the greater and more good the truth or gift is, the harder it is to abandon the idol and let it resume its proper place in the economy of God.

Now one of the greatest gifts God has given us is the gift of life.  Not the greatest gift, mind you.  That would be Jesus Christ, a gift so exceedingly great that, for 2000 years, martyrs have laid down their lives rather than lose him and the eternal life he offers.  So it is that Christians have refused to so much as offer the teeny tiny sacrilege of a pinch incense to Caesar.

But under the stresses of culture war and politics, it is easy for people to forget their priorities.  That is what happened a couple of days ago when Fr. Frank Pavone, long a leader in the prolife movement, chose to commit sacrilege by placing the naked, dead body of an aborted baby on an altar consecrated to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and deliver himself of a 45 minute political commercial demanding that we vote for Donald Trump. [editors note: we will not be linking the video here. Please do not put this video in the comments section]

There is, very simply, no excuse for this.  Yes, abortion is a grave evil.  Yes, human life is precious.  But nothing justifies this.

“But without such drastic action, human life will be lost!”

No.  You shall not do evil that good may come of it. And using the dead body of a human being in order to gin up the vote for a politician is an insult to the deceased.  More importantly, putting that person’s naked body on display on the Holy Altar of God is an insult to God.

Suppose a gun control advocate priest had decided to place the naked body of John F. Kennedy, complete with his brains exposed, on the altar of St. Matthew Cathedral for his funeral?  Does anybody in their right mind believe that this would be showing respect to the dead?  Same here.

It is tempting, of course, to focus on the disastrous impact this mad act will have on the Church’s reputation.  For disastrous it will be.  Fr. Pavone has done a huge harm to the Church and her enemies will not be slow to exploit this obscene politicization.  But it’s not really the central issue.  The central issue is the complete inversion of goods.  God’s glory in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can take second place to nothing: not even the good of stopping abortion.

Similarly, the dignity of the human person cannot be sacrificed on the altar of political expedience.  No matter how much you believe the (extremely dubious) proposition that a man like Donald Trump will somehow solve the issue of abortion, you cannot use the dead body of a child as a tool to get your way. That baby had a name.  That baby deserved the dignity of a funeral and a decent burial.  It is a complete betrayal of everything the Church teaches on the dignity of human life to turn a dead child into a prop in a grab for political power.

The prolife movement is too important to be turned into the most important thing. God is the most important thing and sacrilege for Jesus will only wreck everything the prolife movement–and Fr. Pavone–have worked so hard to build.

Please join me in praying for Fr. Pavone, all persons involved, and the resolve and dignity of the pro-life movement.