Monday, November 7, 2016

Desecration & sacriliege in the service of the truth? Never

At least to me, Fr Frank Pavone's Facebook Live (video) stunt yesterday demonstrated one of two things: either Fr. Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, has lost his mind or he deliberately desecrated the body of an aborted child apparently on an altar while announcing his support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and warning people about supporting Hillary Clinton. If it was an altar, I believe he also committed sacrilege. I will not post a link to the video. If your morbid curiosity gets the better of you, you should have no problem finding it on your own. The Washington Post's Sarah Pulliam Bailey wrote an account of what happened: "A Catholic priest put an aborted fetus on the altar in an appeal for Donald Trump."

In my view, the personhood of the aborted child whose body Fr Pavone used was not respected. Handling the dead body of a person requires reverence and respect, care and concern, love. Burying the dead is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy. It is stunning to me that a priest would use the body of a dead child to pull a political stunt.

A few years ago he kind of "won" a public battle with Bishop Zurek of Amarillo, his ordinary, over Priests for Life lack of financial transparency and accountability. I am still not quite sure how he avoided what his bishop initially intended to do, but I do know his ministry outside his diocese was restricted.

What I find almost as horrifying as Pavone's stunt is how many people are falling all over themselves to justify his perverse act. What he did is not morally defensible. Not only isn't it morally defensible, it is self-defeating. Due to the ministry of many dedicated and loving pro-life people, the vast majority of whom are laity, Catholic and Protestant, many people are beginning to re-think abortion. In other words, when it comes to abortion, the pro-life position is making steady progress. Stunts like the one Fr Pavone pulled only serve to undermine and counteract these efforts. I seriously doubt Fr Pavone has a following beyond those committed to ending abortion. So, at the practical level, setting aside the moral reprehensibility of his action, it is doubtful his using the naked body of a child murdered by abortion in such a brazenly political manner changed anybody's mind. I am sure it will be used by many who support legal abortion to demonstrate how crazy pro-lifers are.

On the political side of things Republicans in Congress and Republican presidents going back decades have little to show for all their promises to end abortion. Off the top of my head, I can think of the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City policy, the latter of which, disallowing U.S. government funds to be used by NGOs who work outside the United States to support or provide abortions, has not been made into law as it should be, even during the Bush presidency when that party held the presidency and both houses of Congress.

On the final day of this excruciatingly painful presidential contest, I think it also bears noting that Supreme Court justices and federal appellate court judges are not appointed by presidential fiat. All such appointments require Senate confirmation. Beyond that, what makes Trump supporters think their candidate, who was publicly pro-abortion up until several months ago, will make protection of human life, including the lives of the unborn, a priority? This is the man who, once he realized he had to strongly oppose abortion in order to gain votes in Republican primary contests, immediately started to spout off about punishing women who have abortions as criminals, which is not what most pro-lifers support.

Maybe next for his next trick Fr Pavone can screen some of the vilest forms of pornography in the sanctuary to warn us of the dangers of sexual immorality. The moral axiom that ends don't justify means applies always and everywhere to everyone regardless of intentions or circumstances.

What should've happened? I'll let a priest answer: A good priest writes Fr. Pavone.

In light of his desecration of a human body, his likely sacrilege, and his single-handed effort to set the pro-life movement back decades, it seems to me that Fr Pavone's priestly faculties should be suspended and before any discussion of restoring them takes place he should go somewhere peaceful where he can pray and reflect. He owes the Church and the pro-life movement an apology. Failing the proper handling of this at the local level, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his immediate universal jurisdiction, should step in.

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