Monday, October 06, 2008

Bishop Blair Responds to Gaillardetz Opinion Regarding Roe v. Wade [UPDATED]

Why do I love my Bishop? Let me count the ways! Here's one major reason:
Written by MOST REVEREND LEONARD P. BLAIR, Bishop of Toledo
Saturday, 04 October 2008

On Sept. 27 an article was published in the Toledo Blade (“Who really is the pro-life candidate?) authored by Richard A. Gaillardetz, professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo.

To teach Catholic studies at a secular university one does not have to be a Roman Catholic, but Professor Gaillardetz made a specific point of identifying himself as a Catholic in his article.

Lest Professor Gaillardetz’s teaching position and self-identification as a Catholic create any misunderstandings, it should be pointed out that his opinions regarding the issue of abortion, and Roe v. Wade in particular, do not reflect the clear and consistent moral position of the United States Bishops.

Professor Gaillardetz suggests that attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade are problematic and perhaps futile. It should be pointed out that at one time in our nation’s history, the abolition of slavery was also considered by many to be problematic and futile, and extremely divisive. Yet our nation was not content with simply reducing the number of slaves or easing their condition. It was the very institution of slavery that was morally abhorrent and incompatible with the principles on which our nation was founded.

Roe v. Wade has been responsible for the killing of tens of millions of unborn children. It has effectively rendered the definition of human personhood flexible and negotiable. It has also implicitly excluded unborn children from human status. This morally flawed thinking is now deployed on behalf of physician-assisted suicide, fetal experimentation and human cloning. Each reduces the human person to a problem or an object.

In 2002 the Bishops reaffirmed what has been a consistent moral position. They wrote: “Roe v. Wade cannot stand as the law of this great nation, a nation founded on the self-evident truth that all people are created with an inalienable right to life. We are committed, no matter how long it may take, no matter the sacrifices required, to bringing about a reversal of this tragic Supreme Court decision. We will speak out on behalf of the sanctity of each and every human life wherever it is threatened, from conception to natural death, and we urge all people of good will to do likewise… Roe v. Wade must be reversed.” (A Matter of the Heart)

Furthermore, “Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas... But being right about such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life.” (cf. Living the Gospel of Life, 1998)

I certainly agree with Professor Gaillardetz that we must also strive to reduce abortions even while Roe v. Wade remains in effect. This is already happening. Annual abortions in our country declined from more than 1.5 million to just more than 1 million in recent years. Factors in this decline include a growing public revulsion at abortion (prompted in part by greater awareness of the grisly "partial-birth" abortion method) and the passage of hundreds of modest but effective pro-life laws such as public funding bans, informed consent laws, laws requiring parental involvement when minors seek abortions, and so on.

Tragically, some lawmakers would reverse these gains and boost the abortion rate by invalidating all such laws, through extreme measures such as the proposed "Freedom of Choice Act" in Congress. Despite its deceptive title, it would deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry, and would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. No one supporting such legislation can claim in good faith to be working to reduce abortions.

As the late Pope John Paul II affirmed: “It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.” (Evangelium Vitae, no. 101) The failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the “rightness” of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community.
(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Long-time readers of this blog know that Prof. Gaillardetz has been trying to muddy the waters on the Church's pro-life teaching for some time now in an effort to promote the election of so-called "pro-choice" politicians like Sen. Obama (and I've done my best to combat his nonsense here and in my letters to the editor of the Catholic Chronicle - see the links below).

And now, Bishop Blair has felt it necessary to speak out against the professor's efforts, lest there be any doubt about what the U.S. Bishops think the Church's stance is regarding overturning Roe v. Wade.

Thank you, Bishop Blair!

Here's Bishop Blair's piece as it appeared in this past Saturday's edition of The Toledo Blade.

UPDATE #2 (7 October)
Bishop Blair's piece is also linked on the front page of the Diocese of Toledo website as a "Message from Bishop Blair".

I'd say our Bishop is serious about getting the message out and clearing up any confusion about what the U.S. Catholic Bishops have actually taught regarding abortion and the need for Catholics to work to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Blair: "Faithful Citizenship Revisited"

Bishop Blair: "Truly Grave Moral Reasons" and "Serious Moral Soul-Searching" Before "Could Be Morally Permissible" to Vote for Pro-Abortion Candidate

Bishop Blair Calls Upon Voters to Examine Consciences

Bishop Blair to Speak on "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship"

Catholics in Alliance Respond With Letter to Editor

Continue to Raise Our Voices on Issue of Voting

In January's Catholic Chronicle - "Vote Your Values" Revisited

Vote Your Values

"NOT An Approved Catholic Voter Guide"

Toledo Blade: "Catholic Voting Guide Gives Church Perspective"

Debate Over at Amy's: Should Catholics Work for Legal Restrictions on Abortion?

"Separate But Equal" Redux - Pro-Life Edition

Mark Stricherz: "Why the Democratic Abortion Strategy is Worse"

What is the "Pro-Life Position" Regarding Abortion?

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At 10/06/2008 10:08 AM, Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

You have a good shepherd, Jay. As I said this morning on Catholic radio, most bishops, especially mine, seem to be in the witness protection program when it comes to this issue. That said, Bishop Blair would be wise not to quote so much from USCCB documents. They lack authority and as often as not offer sops to "both sides."

At 10/06/2008 11:04 AM, Blogger DP said...

Obama's the perfect candidate for Gaillardetz. Both are faux moderates who conceal hard leftism behind bromides. Soul mates, as it were.

At 10/06/2008 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article and good timing for me. I was at a class this weekend for Deacon candidates. The priest brought up Gaillardetz as a source on issues related to infallibility and Church teaching. Didn't know who he was. Now I do and won't look up his works.

At 10/06/2008 1:50 PM, Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...


I hope you'll share this information with your fellow candidates (not to mention the priest who recommended Prof. Gaillardetz' works as "authoritative").

At 10/06/2008 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would but the program just started this summer. Not sure where the sympathies of most candidates lie. Some I suspect would not take kindly to this sort of challange. Others might but not clear who yet. I feel like those seminarians who have to keep their orthodoxy under wraps until they are ordained.
We'll see.

At 10/06/2008 5:31 PM, Blogger Joe said...

The Catholic bishops need to do more. They need to step up to the plate, join with the leaders of all other pro-life denominations, condemn the moral bankruptcy of the Democratic Party for its support for unlimited abortion violence and urge all pro-life Christians to vote only for John McCain for President and for Republicans for the House and Senate. Electing A Republican President and Congress presents us with the only realistic way of doing anything to stop or reduce the killing of unborn children next year.

If Barack Obama takes power and the Democrats control Congress, it will be devastating for the cause of protecting unborn children. The lives of millions of our unborn children are worth risking the tax exemptions of these pro-life churches. It is time to start acting pro-life and putting everything on the line, rather than just talking pro-life.

At 10/06/2008 7:02 PM, Blogger Pro Ecclesia said...


Do you really think it would be wise for the Bishops to endorse any political party? And what have the Republicans done - consistently - to earn that sort of fealty?

Certainly John McCain doesn't warrant that sort of support from the Bishops. As Rick Santorum has pointed out numerous times, McCain has been tepid at best on the social conservative agenda, and helped to stall that agenda's progress when the Republicans controlled the Senate. His support for ESCR, alone, disqualifies him from receiving the sort of full-throated endorsement from the U.S. Catholic Bishops for which you are calling.

Don't get me wrong: I believe that the election of John McCain would definitely be preferable to the election of Barack Obama. But he's not ideal from a pro-life perspective, and doesn't deserve the unqualified endorsement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops.

At 10/09/2008 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is very good and encouraging to see Bishop Blair directly correct the error of Gaillardetz.

Gaillardetz has distorted Church Doctrine in countless articles for many CINO publications like U.S. Catholic and The National catholic Reporter etc. that are so readily available in parish bookracks throughout the country. He is a regular at all the heterodox confabs and his books are favorites with DREs and liberal priests.

He is not a catholic theologian but a disciple (actually "toady" would be more accurate) of Fr. Jim Bacik.

Many in Toledo have long been hoping that the Bishop would remove or reassign Bacik.

Tim Lang


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