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Letter to the Editor: Crux, May 17 2016

Consider writing your own letter to the editor of Crux about their failure to respect transgender people and fairly cover issues about gender identity. You can access their contact form: http://www.cruxnow.com/contact/ or tweet @CruxNow

Dear Editor:

I write regarding Crux’s publication of a column by Pia de Solenni titled “Beware of ‘trans movement’ as patriarchy in disguise” (May 16 2016).

I greatly appreciated Crux’s coverage a few months back of two transgender Catholics sharing their stories at LA Congress , and the general balanced coverage of LGBT Catholic issues you have offered. Sadly, today’s piece differs from those previously high standards. I disagree with the column’s content, but that is not why I write. A diversity of viewpoints should certainly be welcomed in the church and in civil society.

What I take issue with is the column’s repeated misgendering of Caitlyn Jenner, an ad hominem attack that should have never been published. It was not only the author’s misgendering either, but in the accompanying caption which I assume was composed by a Crux staffer. I am unclear why style guide Crux employs, but both AP and The New York Times suggest transgender persons be referred to by their self-identified name and pronouns. As Catholics, referring to someone by their chosen name seems to be the respectful course even if differences exist about gender and sex.

Moving forward, I would ask Crux to counterbalance this column with a column from a Catholic who supports transgender non-discrimination protections. If you would like, I’d be happy to suggest trans Catholics and allies who could furnish such a column.

Thank you for your time and consideration of this message.

Peace,
Bob Shine
Coordinator, Social Media and Young Adult Outreach
New Ways Ministry

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In Evaluating Justice Scalia, Where is an Option for the Poor?

Scalia talks with Archbishop of Washington Wuerl at conclusion of annual Red Mass held at Cathedral of St. Matthew Apostle in Washington

Justice Scalia with Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl

There are, already, too many Catholics eulogizing Justice Antonin Scalia and analyzing the impact his absence on the U.S. Supreme Court may have. But I am compelled to write one more because even with post after post being published since Saturday evening, something in these evaluations is missing: an option for the poor.

Let me pause to state first that, in what follows, I am not evaluating Justice Scalia’s moral character nor speculating about where he is now (though, as someone enamored by universal salvation, I prefer to think he resides in God’s loving embrace). What I am evaluating is how we evaluate, as the faithful, Catholics in public life who hold power and influence.

I have read a dozen or more commentaries on Justice Scalia, ranging ideological, political, and ecclesiastical spectra. I know more sit untouched (if someone has brought up similar points to mine, please add links in the comments below). Having attended a conservative Catholic college, the praise being heaped upon Scalia from my friends on Facebook was expected. What prompted me to write this post was a piece in Crux from Christopher Hale, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which is a moderately liberal Catholic advocacy group.

Hale compares Scalia to Pope Francis and, despite political differences Hale hastily excuses, claims there is much common ground. They are Jesuit educated. They believe in the Devil. They are born to Italian immigrants. They care for the sick (if you believe the Acton Institute anecdote about Scalia provided by Hale). If faith is proved by “their deeds rather [sic] their words,” Hale concludes, than both Justice Scalia and Pope Francis “pass with flying colors.” Having evaluated the former justice in this way, Hale concludes that Scalia died “a loyal patriot, a devout Catholic, and a good man.”

This is why a preferential option for the poor is so crucial. And why our church in the U.S., despite Pope Francis’ deepest yearnings for us, is not yet a “poor church for the poor.” If even liberal Catholic voices are extolling Justice Scalia then our hermeneutic is not about what this Catholic in public life has done for those God loves most. It is about something else entirely.

Justice Scalia may have been a good man. By all accounts, he practiced his Catholic faith devoutly, seeking out Mass in the Extraordinary Form and being personally charitable (though he did skip Pope Francis’ address to Congress last fall). He seemed personally kind and even enjoyable company as evidenced by his close friendship with liberal colleague, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. But Vatican II (which the former justice admittedly disliked) zealously reoriented the Catholic Church to being a faith that does justice. We know in a new way the Gospel’s old truth that keeping the laws and being charitable are not enough. And on promoting the common good, Justice Scalia’s record is deeply problematic. Let me highlight a few items.

Justice Scalia was an unapologetic advocate for the death penalty, even as the last three popes have essentially shifted Catholic teaching to bar it in the modern world and evidence mounts that its application punishes people of color and/or less economic means at highly disproportionate rates. He wrote in a majority opinion for Herrera v. Collins that, “Mere factual innocence is no reason to carry out a death sentence properly reached.” Context dulls that comment’s barb slightly, but the Catholic justice basically remained unconcerned with the more than likely reality that we execute innocent people in the U.S. His vote could have saved lives.

Racism is an intrinsic evil in Catholic teaching, but that did not stop Justice Scalia from protecting white supremacy while on the Court. During oral arguments last December in Fisher v. University of Texas, Scalia suggested that black students should attend a “less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well” and that maybe the University of Texas “ought to have fewer” students of color. He called the Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement” kept in place because “normal political processes” (i.e., the U.S. Congress which kept renewing the Act’s provisions) did not work and thus a court needed to strike it down as unconstitutional to end it. His votes certainly did not advance racial justice.

On homosexuality, Justice Scalia’s record is acerbic. He defended criminalizing non-heterosexual sexual identities, as with Lawrence v. Texas where he wrote a dissenting opinion that claimed U.S. residents understand such laws as protective of them and their families “from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.” Scalia approved, too, of discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. In a dissenting opinion for Romer v. Evans, he compared same-gender relationships to murder. And Scalia’s views did not shift since the mid-1990s, unlike many other people. Last November while speaking at Georgetown University, he said pederasts and child abusers could be considered “deserving minorities” as well if lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer people could be so considered for the purpose of discrimination protections.

Then there are Scalia’s votes in Citizens United, in Bush v. Gore, and in Wal-Mart v. Dukes to name a few. I could continue illuminating the manifold and pervasive ways in which Justice Scalia’s position on the U.S. Supreme Court hurt marginalized persons and diminished social justice for three decades. Where has this record  and an option for the poor played into the countless evaluations by Catholics, include those from more liberal voices like Hale’s?

The short answer is: it has not. I will leave the “why” of this to readers’ speculation. But even as we pray that Justice Scalia now resides in God’s embrace, an honest evaluation finds him woefully deficient as a model for Catholics in public life. Given so many Catholic evaluations missed the mark, we, as the faithful, must question this Lent if we are really seeing with God’s eyes.

–Bob

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Enough Prayers.

A small reflection after the 355th mass shooting of 2015 in the U.S….

God hears the cry of the poor. God does not hear the prayers of those endorsing gun rights. Prayers for victims of gun violence are meaningless if they’re not backed by a firm commitment to end these most preventable gun deaths.

Your thoughts and prayers are empty if you don’t call your political representatives tomorrow demanding common sense (yes, restrictive) gun laws.

Your thoughts and prayers are cheap unless you commit to meaningfully contribute in some way to the pro-life movement to end these mass shootings (cash to sustain amazing organizers like Kara​ will suffice).

Your thoughts and prayers are blasphemous if you think the right to gun ownership trumps the right to life. You worship not the God of All but the false idol of Death.

As an African proverb says, “When you pray, move your foot.” 352 mass shootings in 336 days means the time for ‘thoughts and prayers’ ended long ago. Either stop praying or act up.

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Looking Away: Morning Prayer through Some Photos

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

-William Wilberforce

This photo shows a Syrian mother trying to hold her baby above the water, after the boat they were on sank in the Mediterranean. (via Steve McCallum)

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Letter to the Editor: June 2, 2015

Dear Lisa,

Thank you for landing on love’s side in your June 2, 2015 response (“I’ve been invited to attend a gay wedding. Should I go?“) to a question about attending same-sex marriages. Your nuanced evaluation of the situation, ending in a conscience decision, is greatly appreciated.

One question is whether it is fair to characterize a vowed religious’ participation, even leadership, in such a ceremony as “defiance of Rome” and as “open rebellion”?

Such religious – sisters and priests – would understand that the hierarchy of truths mean certain teachings trump others and, if they performed such a ceremony, it would likely be because they appeal to a higher doctrine superseding the lower level teaching on what constitutes marriage (which is a not irreformable teaching of the church). These could be the higher teachings about the nature of the sacraments or social justice, as only two examples.

Doctrine and love cannot be pitted against each other and choosing between them is a false choice. In essence, they would be acting in fidelity to the Church’s traditions and to their vows to care for the People of God.

Should not their conscience rights have a place in the example you have proposed?

Should not these religious be free to choose in Christ and through fidelity to the church the path of equality for all people?

Perhaps a clarification added to the post would be helpful. Thank you for your time.

Peace,

Bob

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Punishing Women or Planting Seeds? A Defense of Cardinal O’Malley

Cardinal Sean O’Malley with Norah O’Donnell

UPDATE (11/30/14): O’Malley writes in The Pilot about his interview. His comment, in full:

“A topic also of significant concern in the Church that was addressed during the interview is the discussion concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood. This is particularly painful to many Catholic women who feel that the teaching on women’s ordination is a rejection and unfair.

“Throughout history, many wonderful Catholic women have wished to be priests, among them St. Therese, the Little Flower. In my comments I was trying to communicate that women are often holier, smarter and more hard-working than men, and that the most important member of the Church is a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church is called to be faithful to Christ’s will, and that is not always easy or popular. Understanding the Church’s teaching is always a process that begins with faith.”

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley spoke with 60 Minutes over the weekend, making headlines for several remarks. Many applauded his criticism of convicted felon and bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph Robert Finn, while O’Malley’s comments on women’s ordination received harsh criticism. He told Norah O’Donnell:

“If I were founding a church, you know, I’d love to have women priests. But Christ founded it and it — what he has given us is — is something different.”

I don’t have the time to adequately explore his comments, but I want to offer two initial thoughts for why the cardinal’s remarks might not be as negative as it has been portrayed.

First, for a cardinal to say he would “love to have women priests” on this most controversial and closed of issues is noteworthy. Where else in recent years has a member of the hierarchy (and close papal confidant) spoken so positively about the concept of ordained women? What about women’s place in ecclesiastical structures at all? O’Malley readily affirmed in the interview that it is women who are, indeed, leading the church’s efforts in education, pastoral, and social justice.

I’m not the first to point out that even Pope Francis who is doing good work in reforming the church elsewhere has a most notable blind spot when it comes to gender justice — and he is hardly alone. Under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, advocating for women’s equality was among the worst crimes (quite literally in canon law when ordination was compared to the abuse of a child). Every time a woman is ordained, she is excommunicated we’re told and many in the church have suffered, like Roy Bourgeois, for speaking truth to power on this specific issue.

In that context, is it not actually quite radical for one of the most powerful Catholic leaders in the world to say he would “love women priests,” even if it is not possible?

Second, O’Malley needs to revisit his church history. Any claims that Jesus instituted the church or gave the community specific structure are quite problematic. Jesus did not ordain women because he did not ordain anyone. Ordination and the hierarchical structuring of ministry we know today (never mind that ontological change bit, which is another post…essay…book) only developed in the third and fourth centuries. To suggest Jesus gave the church anything institutional without conceding the cultural-social-political realities which formed Christian ministry is not quite honest, as powerful as the narrative may be.

O’Malley is an intelligent and educated prelate. Is his own blind spot church history? Or is he intending something else with what is, in my reading, a fairly weak and understated defense of the hierarchy’s exclusion of women from their rightful place at the altar?

Because what Jesus did give us is the Gospel message, and in this message is all we need to know about women’s place in the church: that women repeatedly understand the Reign of God far better than the men, that a Samaritan woman is the proto-disciple and first witness to Jesus as the Christ, that Jesus’ prohibition of divorce was a critique of patriarchy, that Mary Magdalene first announces the Resurrection, that justice and equality for all is a mandate for our world, and that in Christ gender is irrelevant for all are one.

O’Malley, like most in the church’s hierarchy, is constrained by institutional strictures that curtail (and really, silence) prophecy. I’m not defending what is, in many ways, a lack of courage to preach the Gospel in its fullness. But O’Malley is doing more good than most bishops. He has rehabilitated the Catholic Church in Massachusetts amid the sexual abuse crisis, adding his voice to statewide efforts raising the minimum wage and opposing casino expansions recently. Nationally, he successfully calls attention to the immigration crisis in the US and told me in a conversation the firing of LGBT church workers “needs to be rectified.” Repeatedly at the USCCB, he has championed a more expansive view for anti-abortion advocacy and now appears to be unafraid to call out a fellow bishop who deeply failed the people of Kansas City. Perhaps most importantly, he is the American voice that Pope Francis apparently hears most.

None of this justifies the exclusion of women from all the church’s ministries, as his comments suggest at first glance. But what if O’Malley is playing a longer game? What if he is beginning to plant seeds for us to cultivate and nurture that will eventually lead to women’s ordination?

For better or worse, development in the church is a slow process — and I think advocates for women’s equality have at least a non-enemy, if not an ally in Sean O’Malley.

For a report on the interview, check out Joshua McElwee’s piece at NCR.

-Bob Shine

UPDATE: Other commentaries on O’Malley’s remarks….

Ken Briggs at NCR: O’Malley and Muzzled Candor

Thomas Fox at NCR: “The Good Cardinal’s Revealing Interview

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Jesus Wanders Wall Street

DSC_0191I’ve recently begun the book Jesus: A Historical Approximation by Spanish priest Jose Pagola. In it, Pagola examines Jesus’ life through different lenses, starting with “A Galilean Jew.” This first chapter lays out the Galilean context in which Jesus grew up and ministered. When read in light of my contemporary world, there are striking comparisons to be drawn between 1st century Galilee and 21st century America.

In 1st century Galilee, nearly 90% of people were peasants farming the incredibly fertile lands or fishing in the Sea nearby. Land ownership in such an agrarian society is the central question, and in Galilee most belonged to wealthy landowners. Pagola describes further:

“These large landerowners usually lived in the cities, rented out their lands to peasants in the area, and supervised them through administrators acting in their name. The leases were almost always very burdensome for the peasants. The owner demanded half or a significant portion of their production, which varied according to the results of the harvest…There are signs that in Jesus’ time, these large landowners were expanding their hldings with new lands from debt-ridden families, and coming to control a good part of Lower Galilee.”

Those farmers who owned their land desperately defended it. Indigent day laborers wandering for work became common. The producing majority provided for the ruling minority, with less and less in return to meet their own family’s needs. Through tributes, taxes, fees, and corruption hefty portions of any harvest disappeared to Rome, Jerusalem, and regional capitals — between a third and half of a given family’s production.

Debt loomed large as an inevitable result of even the most aggressive defenses against such collections, including a turn to monoculture for the most profitable crops. Pagola writes that “The Galilee Jesus knew was trapped in debt.” Losing one’s land meant losing a means of income, and many people turned to itinerancy, slavery, begging, and prostitution, or crime, which all rose in Jesus’ time.

The hallmark of Jesus’ Galilee was this massive (and growing) inequality between the peasants and the urban elite, composed of civil, economic, and religious leaders made rich by a brutal combination of exploiting the poor and violent oppression. Two new cities appeared in Galilee further straining the peasants as elites grew their wealth and prestige by appropriating more and more of the surrounding harvests. Courts ruled for the elites routinely when land foreclosures increased.

Pagola notes of all this that “…this economic organization did not promote the common good of the country, but favored the growing well-being of the elites.”

You can see how Jesus ministered in a Galilean context similar to America today: economic inequality grows due to unjust policies set out by a ruling elite with little regard for the common good.

While not an agrarian society, recent decades have seen an increase in worker productivity for America’s industries not met with a commensurate rise in income. Wages remain stagnant, salaries low, and purchasing power dropping. Predatory lending and unaffordable higher education that is necessary for careers today has led to exorbitant debt for most Americans. Home foreclosures are similar to the land confiscations of Galilee, casting families into itinerancy and instability. Job losses and unemployment from an economy serving profit and not the common good compound all this.

Yet, for the top earners in America there are few problems. They have benefited from the economic system which favors unbelievable profits from risky investment practices while denying mothers the most basic food assistance for their hungry children.

What Pagola wrote of early 1st century Galilee, that”…this economic organization did not promote the common good of the country, but favored the growing well-being of the elites” is similarly true of America today.

This is why Jesus message can be so powerfully proclaimed today: his ministry condemns the same excess and trends, while holding up the same people who have been marginalized and cast out. I find it helpful to quote Pagola at length here:

“Jesus’ activity in the Galilean villages and his message of the reign of God amounted to a strong critique of this state of affairs. His firm defense of the indigent and hungry, his preferential embrace of the least in that society, and his condemnation of the sumptuous life of the urban rich, were a public challenge to the socio-political program of Antipas [the ruler of Galilee]…his calls to have compassion on those who suffer and forgive their debts; and many other sayings can help us understand even today how Jesus shared the suffering of his people and how passionately he sought a new, more just and loving, world in which God would reign as Father of all.”

Having just returned from the Holy Land, the beauty of the Galilee is fresh in my mind. It is a land of unparalleled vegetation where Scriptures words of ‘a land of milk and honey’ comes vividly to life. Yet, when I meditated on all of this after reading Pagola’s chapter what came to mind was Jesus ministering in America. There is the Son of God walking down Wall Street casting out the investment bankers and perusing Congress’ halls  questioning why Republicans cut food stamps. There is Jesus healing the many homeless people I pass by while walking through DC and railing outside the Treasury building against anti-Gospel policies.

Why do we make the message so distant, as if 1st century Galilee and 21st century America are more different than they are similar. Sure, 2,000 years and host of cultural nuances separate my world from Jesus’ world — but the humanity in it all remains a constant thread. The inclination to narcissism and greed, apathy and indifference, fear and isolationism.

Most pointedly in the meditation, there is Jesus sitting across the table from me, staring as he asks why I continue to obfuscate Scripture’s message to justify my own unjust excesses.

-Bob

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Review: “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints”

Dawn Eden and I met unexpectedly. For a free burrito, I had agreed to attend her talk sponsored by a friend’s organization. As someone who works professionally for gay and transgender justice in the Catholic Church, I never expect much from these lectures besides the dinner. Eden’s talk surprised me.

In fact, it surprised me enough that after a conversation with her I ended up reading My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

Eden’s work is authentic and raw, able to provide necessary detail establishing her experiences with childhood abuse while foregoing an unhealthy indulgence into one’s past.This is not a salient tell-all, nor is it strictly an academic work. In weaving her story amid the tapestry of saints and confronting challenging issues, Eden writes a book encompassing more than can be strictly categorized. My Peace I Give You is a spiritual autobiography, a theological text, but primarily it is a narrative of God’s love, applicable for all who read it.

My Peace I Give You emerges from Eden’s own faith perspective, employing traditional devotions and the hierarchy’s documents in framing discussions. Readers with affection for the Sacred Heart of Jesus or saintly relics will likely find added benefits in the work than more progressive Catholics might. The theology is high quality, but stunted for those looking to expand beyond scholastic formulations. That said, there is nothing stale in Eden’s engagement of faith as she portrays devotions in new ways and saints in new lights.

Aside from her own story’s power, Eden masterfully exposes the saints’ lives in her exploration of suffering and abuse, healing and reconciliation. Well-known figures like Ignatius of Loyola and Thomas Aquinas are given fresh perspectives, while lesser-known saints like Karolina Kozka are highlighted. It is evident that Eden has not only researched, but also prayerfully engaged the witness of each person about which she writes.

However, this more traditional approach lends itself to problems for readers like myself. Use of male language for God is a stumbling point, but more problematic is Eden’s use of purity and virginity concepts that I reject outright. Other questions I have about Eden’s presented theodicy or the value of redemptive suffering linger with me. I criticize her use of the term “transvestite” and choice to offer a dangerously anti-gay ministry in the resources section.

Yet, it is evident in the book – and when I heard Eden speak – that she is an uncompromising advocate for women and for victims of sexual violence. These quibbles I have are not fatal flaws for the book, or I would not have been able to write a review. Eden is correct where it most matters – God’s love is at the core of our lives, forgiveness properly understood can liberate us, and a relationship with Christ among the saints is what must sustain us.

I cannot say how others with more knowledge and experience about childhood sexual abuse might respond. I offer my comments as a Catholic invited to read this book who finished impressed with what Eden has produced. I admire how she strove not to answer every question the reader might have or write a perfected treatise. She opened her own brokenness to the reader, and from this wound shared wisdom with doses of devotion and theology intermixed.

Though Eden cites Fr. Daniel Lord of The Queen’s Work fame in the opening, it is another 20th century saint that came to my mind. Henri Nouwen was himself an author who wrote from his own woundedness, and this insight from him seems most apt for Eden today:

“I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.”

My Peace I Give You is an offering from Dawn Eden of her vulnerable self, that most powerful gift in our modern world, and as such the book contains lessons for every Catholic. Whether they themselves are a victim of childhood abuse, love someone victimized by sexual violence, or simply seek to learn more about these topics which have ravaged the Catholic Church and many in our world this book will offer wisdom for our common journey in Christ.

–Bob

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Mental Health Isn’t Why We Have Shootings

I tire of a particular argument that has emerged when gun violence happens: if we can’t act on guns, let’s focus on mental health. Once again, those of us with mental illness are appropriated for society’s catharsis — except this time, mental health advocacy groups like the National Alliance for Mental Illness have taken the bait.

How does this myth even emerge?

Pinning mental illness to those who commit mass shootings and other horrific crimes is commonplace in the US today. The stigma surrounding bipolar disorder and other ills remains extremely high, and it assuages communal fears that only a ‘crazy’ person would kill innocent shoppers or gun down a classroom of first graders. It isn’t our neighbor or co-worker (or ourselves) because they’re not mentally ill; they’re ‘normal,’ ignoring the reality that so many are or will at some point struggle with their mental health. You can see why mental illness is so readily tied to gun violence by the media, society, politicians, you name it.

And yet, the problem remains the guns.

These deadly weapons allow a single person to take out that classroom of first graders or the moviegoers or the innocent bystander or the police officer or the…or the…or the… Without the guns, the lethal capacity of an individual is greatly reduced. Sure there are other deadly weapons we hear pro-gun people say, but it’s much harder to create as much carnage in so short a time as these shootings happen with knife or baseball bat. Admittedly, some who commit violent acts have histories of mental illness, but acting upon their illness in destructive manners again becomes much harder without free-flowing weapons floating about.

Addressing mental health in the gun violence debate is merely ducking the real issue. It shouldn’t take mass murder for our society to provide affordable, accessible, high-quality psychiatric and therapeutic care for those, like myself, suffering from mental illness. That should be a reality already, gun violence or not.

So, if we’re going to address the epidemic of gun violence, let’s address the problem: guns. It’s not video games or a violent culture, it’s not mental health support or unsecured schools (what a term in the first place). These are aggravating factors, but they’re not the problem. It is guns and until we fix the gun violence issue in America, 30 or so people will be killed each and every day.

Do we really want to keep talking about mental health and all these other tangential side notes until it is our loved one or ourself gunned down while we simply go about our lives?

–Bob

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Let’s Talk About Tactics…

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One of more than 50 tweets I received…

Yesterday’s March for Life was the sixth that I’ve been present for, though not always on the National Mall. Attending The Catholic University of America, my college campus was overtaken each year around this time by tour buses in the dozens and school groups in the thousands. I’ve wondered down to the Mall a few times to see what happens at the March, to dialogue with participants, and to earnestly find common ground with them — which wouldn’t seem so hard, given we both oppose abortion.

And yet…

Each year, as the March for Life winds down I am left with a bitter feeling about what has happened and whether this is really something which stands for life. The messages are clear, and there’s always an abundance of signage and literature littered on the Mall in the aftermath if it wasn’t for you. However, the tactics don’t seem consistent with respecting human dignity — and I’m not even talking about those graphic depictions of aborted children.

As I see it, abortion is a wildly complex issue, or rather serious of interconnected issues, and there’s widespread agreement among Americans more than we concede. The movement, both anti-abortion and pro-choice, are led by the radicals on each side — and the rest of us are left somewhere mixed in. Yet, it is those most radical who set the tone and receive media attention and it is those who damage the cause of ending abortion and standing for life.

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Called heretical for suggesting that anti-abortion movement had a history of violence it did not adequately address…

I highlight one incident from last night, which is more typical than I want to admit, of interactions I’ve had online and in person with those participating in anti-abortion efforts. I readily admit, I began the interaction with one of the participants by tweeting at them; I commented that suggesting pro-choice activists had killed anti-abortion ones was extreme. I stand by that.

In response, I received a barrage of ad hominem tweets, accusations that I was lying, and an unwillingness to engage civilly — and this was with someone with whom they agreed on abortion! The anti-abortion community needs to stop assailing those with whom it does not agree and question whether its tactics are consistent with its message because, in far too many, but not all, instances these two just don’t coincide.

–Bob

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