Jakubczyk on Common Sense

Applying faith and reason to ideas, issues and events in today's world

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John J. Jakubczyk has been active in the Pro-Life Movement since 1975.  He served as President of Arizona Right to Life, Arizona's largest, oldest and strongest pro-life organization.  He was on the board of AzRTL for many years and now acts as the Arizona delegate to the National Right to Life Committee.  As the founder and president of Southwest Life & Law Center, he continues to use his legal skills to assist in advising, counseling and defending women, children, pro-life activists, organizations, as well as victims of abortion. A national speaker, motivator and adviser since the 1980s, he is very familiar with the history of the movement at the national level.   A founder and past president of Ville de Marie Academy, he served as a trustee for 15 years.  He has been an attorney in private practice for 35 years, is active in his church, married, the father of 11 children, and a proud grandfather.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This Sunday's Readings Apply to Nancy Pelosi and her Archbishop

The current controversy involving Nancy Pelosi and her statements regarding the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject of protecting human life has provoked a response from a number of bishops throughout the United States. In each of these statements the bishops have made it clear that the information regarding the humanity of the unborn child is not something based upon religious teaching or faith but something found in the scientific and medical texts addressing the beginning of human life.

The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, D.D. Bishop of Lake Charles in his statement on September 3, 2998 wrote
“To answer a question such as when does life begin, science gives us a quite adequate answer; according to one prominent embryology text, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, by Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persuad (7th Edition; Publ. Saunders, p. 16), “Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to produce a single cell—a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual”; if he were alive today, St. Augustine would agree, because St. Augustine believed that there was no “disjunction” in what was known by faith and reason (cf. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1981 ed., vol. 5, p. 808, “St. Augustine” on “Faith and Reason”); life begins at conception; no doubt St. Augustine would have marveled at a uterine ultrasound and what it reveals about a human in the womb;”

So let us be clear. It is not church teaching that tells us a person’s life begins at conception. It is science. The Church recognizes the scientific evidence and applies her moral teaching to the facts. Thus the Church teaches that all innocent human life must be protected from conception to natural death.
What is so difficult about this that otherwise intelligent people cannot or will not understand what is being taught.

The Catholic Church’s Declaration on Procured Abortion is very clear:

“It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity [legality] of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; November 18, 1974; No. 22.)
Again I must ask, what is so difficult about this teaching?

Today’s readings at Mass ask us as members of the Church to concern ourselves with the actions of our brethren. In the first reading from Ezekiel, the prophet states:
Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
When you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die,”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself. (Ezekiel 33:7-9)
Thus the leaders of the Church have the responsibility to tell those in sin to cease their evil. It is not just the bishops who have this duty. As Jesus explains in the Gospel,
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 18:15-18)
So for Catholics, it is really very simple. One has a duty to correct one’s brother in charity. One also gets to choose if one wants to be in the Church or separate himself from the Church. One however cannot persist in serious sin, give scandal to others and then pretend nothing is wrong. And certainly one cannot ignore church teaching, misrepresent church teaching, and then when the bishops rebuke the person, respond by implying the bishops are one ones in error.

Further it is a scandal for a bishop to address the issue and not discipline the person by making it clear that such impudence will not be tolerated. Clearly that appears to be the case with the Archbishop of San Francisco. In his long delayed statement published in the diocese newspaper on September 7, 2008, the Archbishop correctly stated Church teaching that procured abortion is always wrong. He also explained the history of the church’s position and how opposing abortion has been the consistent teaching of the Church since the beginning some 2000 years ago.
Yet he did not explain to Ms. Pelosi that she cannot simply turn her back on the teachings of the Church and remain in communion with the Church. He failed to use this moment not only as a teaching moment for the whole church but as a spiritual intervention in the case of Mrs. Pelosi. There are many Catholics in public office who ignore Church teaching while at the same time mock the authority of the Church to teach on these critical moral issues. The failure of society to heed the call to holiness (and therefore true happiness) has resulted in tragic loss of human life, the broken lives of millions and the despair of those whose lives are separated from God.
At the least the Archbishop could have echoes the words of Cardinal Egan of New York:
Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.
We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.
Perhaps the Archbishop could have pointed out as Bishop Vasa did that
It is highly disingenuous, deceptive and intellectually dishonest to take this ecclesial sound bite from 1,500 years ago and treat it as if it is the last definitive word on the subject. This is particularly true since Augustine himself “vigorously condemned the practice of induced abortion” despite the unavailability of accurate scientific information. Furthermore, according to Bauerschmidt, Augustine also called the use of means to avoid the birth of a child “evil work.” It would appear that the public official conveniently missed that part and thus does not allow Saint Augustine to form any part of her understanding of the evil of either abortion or contraception while boasting that this is precisely what she has done.
Or maybe the Archbishop could have cited the history of the church’s opposition and the rebuked Mrs. Pelosi with the same strength as the bishop of Colorado Springs, Most Reverend Michael Sheridan did:
From the first century the Church has taught that abortion is gravely immoral. “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2271, quoting Didache 2, 2). The procuring of an abortion is always and in all circumstances intrinsically evil. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2271). It is murder of the most vulnerable and innocent human beings. Speaker Pelosi’s outrageous attempt to present what she considers the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding abortion is simply wrong and should be disregarded by every faithful Catholic.
All other rights are useless if one is denied the right to live. Our founding fathers recognized this when they enumerated life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as unalienable human rights. They also recognized that these three rights are not equal in importance. Pursuing happiness means little if one s a slave. And freedom means nothing to someone who has been denied the right to life.
Pope John Paul II echoed these sentiments when he wrote “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights . . . belong to human nature and are inherent in the person . . . from the moment of conception until death.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2273, quoting CDF, Donum vitae III).
The teachings of the Church on abortion are consistent and unambiguous, and it is very disturbing to hear someone who claims to be a Catholic distort these teachings and sow seeds of confusion among the faithful by attempting to relativize the right to life.
There can be no compromise on this issue. “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2272). “Those who are excommunicated . . . and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” (Code of Canon Law 915).
Those Catholics who take a public stance in opposition to this most fundamental moral teaching of the Church place themselves outside full communion with the Church, and they should not present themselves for the reception of Holy Communion.

The Archbishop of San Francisco should publically call upon Nancy Pelosi and any other pro-abortion Catholics in the San Francisco area to decide whether they wish to remain in communion with the Catholic Church. He must give them the option to renounce their error or publically acknowledge their decision to separate themselves from the body called the Church. For as Christ himself said, if the sinner refuses fraternal correction, he is to be treated as an outsider for the sake of his soul.
Pelosi can choose between abortion and Christ. Indeed all those who claim to be Catholic and support the killing of innocent unborn children also should consider the same question. For as St. Paul said in the second reading,
“Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Abortion is an evil that must be stopped. Real love would oppose such an evil. Nancy Pelosi and any who apologize for her do a grave injustice to the law of life when they support the so called woman’s right to choose.