In the run-up to today’s March for Life, Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, gave an interview to the Boston Herald (h/t Rocco Palm) which was published yesterday. One of the questions asked of His Eminence was about Pope Francis’ now (in)famous remark that the Church needing to avoid being obsessed with issues like abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.
Here’s what the Cardinal had to say:
The normal Catholic in the parish might hear a sermon on abortion once a year. They’ll never hear a sermon on homosexuality or gay marriage. They’ll never hear a sermon about contraception. But if you look at the New York Times, in the course of a week, there will be 20 articles on those topics. So who is obsessed?
Bingo! But the Cardinal doesn’t leave it there. He continues:
Now, the Church’s positions are very clear and very consistent. For us, life is at the very center of our social teachings. Life is precious. It is a mystery. It must be nurtured, protected, the transmission of life is sacred. And our defense of human life is a great service to society. When the state begins to decide who is worthy of living and who isn’t, all human rights are put in jeopardy, but the voice of the church is very clear. And we’re not just saying that life is precious in the womb but life is precious when someone has Alzheimer’s when someone has AIDS when someone is poor when someone has mental illness. Their humanity is not diminished – and they have a claim on our love and on our services. So the church’s position is a very consistent one. It is a consistent life ethic. I don’t think that we are obsessed, however, when the New York Times is writing 20 articles a week about these things and make reference to the Church in half of those articles, it gives the impression. But I think in the parishes, these things are talks, in a routine way, in CCD classes, along with the rest of the Catholic doctrine but all of our teachings fit together. They’re part of a whole. There’s a consistency in our life ethic.
While we ought to insist on the truth–and a fair accounting of the truth, as Cardinal O’Malley does–we must never let the failings of others define our own mission. It’s the easiest thing in the world to complain about media bias. It is also easy to fall into a trap where a lack of fairness becomes an excuse for bitterness. When this happens, when we lose focus on our ultimate goal, the half-truths and lies can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Moreover, we risk missing a particular opportunity for grace. As Christ Himself tells us:
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
On this unhappy anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, let’s all resolve to keep up the fight for life. Let’s also resolve to never let our own frustrations obscure the joy of the Gospel.