Mr. Thomas Farragher of the Boston Globe recently coughed up a hairball that explains why “ministers of hospitality” at my Catholic parish make sure the rest of us cannot find church bulletins before Mass on Sundays. Farragher admitted to his habit of picking up the weekly bulletin on the way into rather than out of Mass, and then wrung his hands over what he found there during what might have been a boring sermon.
The bulletin that shocked Farragher while his priest was trying to shed light on connections between Holy Scripture and daily life had a thinly-veiled endorsement for Donald J. Trump. That such a thing found publication in Massachusetts might have been surprise enough. In writing afterward about this violation of his safe space, Mr. Farragher professed himself frustrated by the rationale for the endorsement, which he says depended exclusively on what Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have said about abortion.
Paraphrasing a statement from Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver that was reprinted in his bulletin, Farragher summarized the reasoning involved as “Hillary Clinton supports abortion rights. Donald Trump opposes abortion. And that is that.”
Archbishop Aquila never mentioned either candidate by name, but (wrote Farragher) it did not take much reading between the lines to see where he was going with incendiary comments like “The right to life is the most important fundamental right, since life is necessary for any of the other rights to matter.” Aquila must have been writing with his crozier at hand, because he also said “There are some issues that can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as which policies are more effective in caring for the poor, but the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching.”
Sometimes it’s fun to be part of a worldwide church: One copy-and-paste job by bulletin-making elves and boom! Industrial-strength “shepherding” from Denver startled a Boston columnist out of his somnolence. “Can it possibly be my church’s position that a candidate who talks glibly about sexually assaulting women, who makes fun of the disabled, who belittles the parents of a soldier who died fighting for our country should be president solely because he now opposes abortion?” Farragher wondered. As a self-proclaimed “cafeteria Catholic,” he was horrified.
Farragher went on to claim that his “spotty” adherence to “church orthodoxy” put him in good company. Not “considerable” company, mind you, but “good” company. No wonder he was horrified.
I happen to agree that Mr. Trump is crass, immature, and late to the pro-life party, but consider the alternative. We know what and whom that is. As a timely essay in the Federalist noted, “No fact-checkers can cover for Hillary Clinton’s ghastly abortion views.”
The Democratic nominee talks about having fought for children her whole adult life, but what she means by that is funneling taxpayer money into social programs and trying to federalize education so that toddlers can be indoctrinated before they learn to tie their shoes. Mrs. Clinton never fights for children who don’t make it alive out of what should be delivery rooms.
Archbishop Aquila did not use big words to explain why opposing abortion matters. What part of “fundamental” seems hard to understand? You’ve heard the sayings about blind squirrels finding acorns, and stopped clocks being right twice a day. Could a Democrat with a byline not admit that even a “thrice-married xenophobe” makes a good point now and then?
“American Catholics have abandoned church teachings on a broad swath of social issues,” Farragher writes, as though we should also abandon bedrock defense of human life for the sake of consistency. Dimly aware of the fact that abortion arguments matter more than squabbles over whether to peg the minimum wage at seven or seventeen dollars an hour, Farragher went shopping for an authority to bolster his Never Trumpism, and found a Jesuit known for essays in the National Catholic Reporter. (Dear Globe editors: Some of your columnists need better sources.) The takeaway from the conversation between the progressive priest and the progressive columnist was predictable: “Even though Republicans claim to be the pro-life party,” Rev. Thomas Reese suggested, “You can argue that the Democrats with their programs will actually reduce the number of abortions.”
Well alrighty then. You can argue any number of things. The question is, why would you want to? On the one hand, “Democrat programs” might reduce the number of abortions, thus providing a cold compress for a fevered conscience. On the other hand, the whole point of abortion is death, and high-profile Democrats are committed to that instead.
If there’s a safe bet in American politics, it’s that even just-barely-Republicans scare Planned Parenthood and its fellow travelers more than Democrats do. Tortured reasoning from poorly-taught columnists and the hair-splitting priests who enable them cannot obscure the stark choice we all face this November 8.