Bishops Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Kevin VannÂ of Fort Worth issued aÂ pastoral letter that was read from the pulpit at all CatholicÂ masses over the weekend. As you will see, it is thoughtful, clear, and unambiguous. I’ve received anecdotal reports that many people walked out of their churches in response, which I’m sorry to hear. My reaction is entirely different. The Catholic heirarchy in the United States has oftenÂ seemed muddled and intimidated, perhaps because its members did not have the intellectual capacity toÂ take onÂ the prevailing ethos. If one believes abortion is an intrinsic evil, as the Catholic Church does, it shouldÂ fight it, as these twoÂ bishops have now done.Â I disagree with them prudentially (to use a favorite Catholic term) but I admire them for speaking out.
The reason I disagree is that this battle over Roe vs. Wade is now in its 45th year, and achieved very little. The decision will not be overturned, even by a conservative Court. There will be no Human Life Amendment. Therefore, those of us who oppose abortion need to rethink how to engage the larger society in reducing abortion and limiting its effects. One other point: The bishops in this letter shove aside all other Catholic social doctrine to focus solely on the questions of abortion and civil unions. That is not my reading of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, but it is theirs and it might be yours. Regardless, the two bishops have set a marker, and I am thankful for it. It is their job, and I am glad that we now have bishops who know how to do their job.Â Our job, those of us who are Catholic, is to respond prayerfully and thoughtfully in the depth of our own understanding to what they have to say.