By Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
The revelation deriving from the recent release of the personal papers of Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun (d. 1999) surely tells a huge--and important--story.
In 1992, the materials attest, the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was almost overturned when the Court was hearing the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Writing for Catholic News Service, Carol Zimmermann, in her story entitled "Blackmun's Papers Reveal Near Overturn of Roe v. Wade" that appeared in the March 18, 2004 issue of the Arlington (Virginia) Catholic Herald (page 15), offered a look at what transpired before the publication of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision.
"According to reports in Blackmun's files, Chief Justice William Rehnquist initially led a five-justice majority in the Casey case, and he had been set to write the majority opinion when Justice (Anthony) Kennedy suddenly changed his mind.
"Kennedy wrote to Blackmun saying he needed to see him whenever he 'had a free moment.'
"'I want to tell you about a new development in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and at least part of what I say should come as welcome news,' he wrote.
"When Blackmun received Kennedy's note, according to his papers, he wrote the words 'Roe sound' on a pink memo pad.
"Nothing in the papers reveals why Kennedy, who is Catholic, changed his mind in the decision and ended up voting with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, John Paul Stevens and David Souter."
The Casey decision reaffirmed the central tenet of the Roe v. Wade ruling "but as a compromise position it also upheld four provisions of Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act that it said would not pose 'undue burden' on pregnant women, including informed consent, a waiting period, parental notification and other record keeping prior to abortions."
Those who love preborn children are invariably disappointed when they become aware of this tragic twist. Twelve years and approximately 18,000,000 dead babies (due to surgical abortion; untold millions more because of chemical abortion) later, the awful reality of the destruction of preborn boys and girls continues unabated throughout our beloved country.
There are essential lessons for us to learn from this haunting debacle.
1.) Catholics who have access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Most Holy Eucharist are not immune from making bad judgments. The incredible blessing of the absolution of sins and the Bread of Life cannot be overestimated. Yet, our cooperation with the Lord's strength as granted in the Sacraments remains vital. It's not enough to us attend Mass weekly and to go to Confession annually. Those divine graces must be constantly "stirred up."
2.) How easy it is not to rock-the-boat, even when we should. We often prefer a kind of inertia that we find increasingly difficult to overcome. "Peace at any price" can become our rallying cry. And that kind of "peace" is not peace at all but only a mere charade of true peace. The Master said, "Peace is My farewell to you, My peace is My gift to you; I do not give it to You as the world gives peace." (Saint John 14:27) The peace of Christ is always joined to the truth and never opposes it.
3.) One person alone is sufficient to cause great good or astonishing evil. The Lord Jesus and Satan . . . Our Blessed Lady and Pontius Pilate . . . Saint Joseph and the Roman Emperor Nero . . . Saint Pio ("Padre Pio") of Pietrelcina and Adolf Hitler . . . Blessed M. Teresa ("Mother Teresa") of Calcutta and Margaret Sanger . . . Pope John Paul II and Bill Clinton . . . the marked contrast doesn't get much starker.
We must never become haughty. Our terrifying fall from sanctifying grace--the very life of God within us--is as close as our flirtation with unbridled arrogance.
Through the powerful intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, may we surrender cheerfully to the Holy Spirit and allow Him--"the Lord and Giver of Life"--to lead us and to choose our actions and words so that, without delay, we may courageously take up the banner of the splendor of preborn human life.
Holy Mary, Mother of Life, pray for us!
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
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