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EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good: A Book Review

Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Catholic Online


“No discussion of moral capital and its effect on our moral ecology and the family is complete without addressing directly the great moral issue of our age. Abortion is a toxin, methodically polluting our fragile moral ecosystem. It poisons everyone it touches, from the mother and her ill-fated child, to the mother and father’s families, to the abortion provider, to each of us who stand as silent witness to this destruction and debasement of human life. As a result of abortion for more than thirty years, over a quarter of all children conceived in America never took their first breath.”

Senator Rick Santorum


I will never forget sitting in the Senate chambers in 1996 with other pro-life leaders during a debate on what is called “partial birth abortion”. We all now know what this act entails, the forced pulling of a child down the birth canal, ripped from the sanctuary of first home of the whole human race, her mothers’ womb – just far enough- to the point where her brains can be suctioned so as to collapse her skull and kill her. That is what occurs in this gruesome procedure. Of course, we do not like to hear of it. We rightly recoil when we do. There is clearly no medical justification for this brutal act; it is intrinsically evil and immoral.

Yet, under the horrors of the framework of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade, and the subsequent expansion of this horrid abuse of judicial authority, this procedure has been “protected” by law. It is actually called a “right.”

That day I experienced of the heroic and inspired leadership of Senator Rick Santorum. I had just finished listened to the sophistry of a woman senator who had tried to justify this horror by playing to emotions and alluding to women who would somehow suffer if this evil act was outlawed. She said that she heard their cries. I was troubled by her abuse of her elected office to protect this barbarism. I was disturbed by the use of unbridled power over those who have no voice, because it is muffled by the womb, in the name of some “right” created out of whole cloth by a misguided and mistaken judiciary. I was sickened that this most extreme form of late term abortion was being defended by public officials like this woman who knew the truth, but continued the lie.

Then, Senator Rick Santorum spoke, calmly yet passionately, with the authority that comes from the truth and needs no emotional manipulation to persuade those who are listening: “The senator …said she hears the cries of women outside this chamber. We would be deafened by the cries of the children who are not here to cry because of this procedure”. He then turned to his colleague on the Senate floor and cried out with a prophetic urgency: “Where do we draw the line? Some people have likened this procedure to an appendectomy. That’s not an appendix!” He pointed to a diagram he was using to make his appeal which showed a child being partially delivered. “That is not a blob of tissue. It is a baby. It’s a baby!”

At that moment- and we all heard it - a baby cried. That cry filled the chamber and changed the environment. At least one Senator had the courage to give a voice to all those children. It was if that cry was the song of solidarity and Senator Santorum became the champion of those who had no one to speak for them. He also became a champion to me.

Shortly after that experience, my family and I relocated to Northern Virginia where I pursued further graduate theology work and engaged in advocacy on behalf of the causes to which I have committed my work. As a Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, I sought and received faculties to serve in my neighboring Diocese of Arlington while I was engaged in my studies outside of my Diocese. I was assigned to St Catherine of Sienna parish in Great Falls, Virginia. It turned out that was also the Senators parish. For three years I had the privilege of witnessing his genuine faith and his beautiful commitment to his family on a weekly basis. I found in him a man who lives what he professes. I also found in his family the beauty of Catholic teaching on the family as a domestic church, lived and demonstrated for all to see.

Over time, my admiration for this man has only grown as I have followed his career. Throughout my own career, I have hung a picture of St. Thomas More, the patron of all politicians and public servants, in my office. As a human rights and constitutional lawyer, Thomas more has been my patron, an example of a faithful Catholic who always lived a unity of life and never compromised the truth. When I first visited the Senators office, I was not surprised to see the same painting on his wall. I have long believed that he is a contemporary Thomas More; a man who ...

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