This is an absurd question of course, but that hasn’t stopped various media commentators from criticizing various papabili for being vigorous defenders of the unborn and the infirm. Several cardinals whose names seem to be hanging in the air have attracted predictable outrage from the left based on the flawed assumption that the Magisterium is somehow accountable to the whims and fancies of public opinion. It is not.
For example, Cardinal Ouellet caused an uproar in Canada when he stated that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape. As he said, “there is already a victim. Must there be another one?” Cardinal Burke of St. Louis attracted media scorn when he said of pro-abortion politicians, “as long as he continues to support legislation which fosters abortion or other intrinsic evils, then he should be refused Holy Communion.” Both Cardinal Arinze and Cardinal Canizares have been mentioned as papabili and have gotten in trouble with the liberal media for their comments on abortion.
These kinds of fundamental truths may be unwise or imprudent for a politician running for temporal office. Rape is a terrible crime and must be treated with great sensitivity. The majority of voters do not yet accept that abortion is a crime just as evil. However, this is what the Church teaches. Abortion is always wrong, no matter the circumstances. Holy men should not shy away from speaking this truth. As Christians, we all must answer to God who sits in eternal judgement with dreadful power, not to voters in the next election.
Even Christ encountered opposition to His teachings from the Pharisees and His own disciples! The Gospel of John, Chapter 6 tells us that many of Christ’s followers abandoned Him upon hearing the mystery of the Eucharist. If people would not listen to Christ, the Word of God made flesh here on Earth and accept His divine truth, we should not be surprised that they ignore the teachings of His Church today.
No less a person than a certain Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was at the center of controversy for his own comments back in 2004 regarding the duty of Catholics to vote for pro-life candidates. However, he was elected to the papacy not despite these comments, but precisely because his brother cardinals recognized that they should not be controversial in the first place. We cannot expect the whole world to embrace God’s truth. Such is our sinful nature. However, we should always expect the Vicar of Christ to embrace the truth and to proclaim it mightily and without fear to the whole world.
Joshua Bowman (@prolixpatriot) joined in full communion with the Catholic Church in 2010 after many years in the spiritual wilderness. He recently moved from his beloved native Virginia to Columbus, Ohio with his growing family and writes on religion, politics, history, and geographical curiosities in these pages and on his personal blog, The Prolix Patriot.