The Robber Council of Hyannis Port
Hardly the role of a lawyer. Surely not the role of a priest."
There was then-Jesuit J. Giles Milhaven, S.J., who soon thereafter left the priesthood and religious life (like he had earlier left Catholic morality) to marry in 1970. Milhaven was a notorious signator of the "Catholic [sic] Statement on Pluralism and Abortion," the New York Times ad of October 7, 1984, sponsored by that inaptly-named Catholics for a Free Choice. That ad and his signature may be Exhibit 1 at his final judgment.
There was Fr. Richard McCormick, S.J., the proportionalist moral theologian and good friend of fellow dissenters Rev. Richard McBrien and Rev. Charles Curran, whose theories were implicitly lambasted by Blessed John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis Splendor, though, like a little boy who blamed anyone but himself, he never seemed able to admit it.
There was the famed dissenter and collarless priest Charles Curran, the only non-Jesuit in the group, and professor at Catholic University of America who is now at theologically milquetoast Southern Methodist University, after Cardinal Ratzinger while Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 1986 found not suitable or eligible to teach as a Catholic theologian.
"It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians 'might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order,'" writes Hendershott quoting Jonsen. Eventually, this dogma was popularized to the "I'm personally opposed but . . . ." pabulum so prevalent today on the lips of compromised politicians.
According to Milhaven's recollection: "The theologians worked for a day and a half among ourselves at a nearby hotel. In the evening we answered questions from the Kennedys and the Shrivers. Though the theologians disagreed on many a point, they all concurred on certain basics . . . and that was that a Catholic politician could in good conscience vote in favor of abortion."
Where was a Pascal when we needed him? In his Fourteenth Provincial Letter, Pascal took to task some of the Jesuits in his day (the 17th century) for what he took to be their lax teachings regarding homicide. He called their rationalizing the "pursuit of that phantom which, airy and unsubstantial as it is, you hold to be a legitimate apology for murder."
The "Kennedy dogma" devised by these dissenters is, if anything is, a "phantom" teaching, "airy and unsubstantial," and nothing less than a "legitimate"--or perhaps better illegitimate--"apology for murder." It was the voice of Moloch, not the Holy Spirit.
Pascal took it unto himself "to show . . . how far" the Jesuits had "departed from the sentiments of the Church and even of nature itself." "The permissions of murder," Pascal says as he chastises the lax sons of St. Ignatius of Loyola, "render it very apparent, that you have so far forgotten the law of God, and quenched the light of nature, as to require to be remanded to the simplest principles of religion and of common sense."
"What can be a plainer dictate of nature," Pascal asks rhetorically invoking St. John Chrysostom and which we could equally ask of the scandalous "Robber Council" of Hyannis Port, "that 'no private individual has a right to take away the life of another'?"
Would that a Pascal had been among these dissenters at Hyannis Port, a Catholic who may have had the prophetic backbone to have asked them point blank: "To come to the point, with you, fathers, whom do you wish to be taken for?--for the children of the Gospel, or for the enemies of the Gospel? You must be ranged either on the one side or on the other; for there is no medium here."
To the Kennedy and Shriver clans who, as Catholics wanted nevertheless to appear politically reasonable before the world, Pascal would have trumpeted this Jeremiad: " Woe unto you when men shall speak well of you! and the devil says: Woe unto those of whom the world does not speak with esteem!"
Here is the Pascalian ultimatum that the dissenting Jesuits numbered among the members of the "Robber Council" failed to heed: "Judge, then, fathers, to which of these kingdoms you belong. You have heard the language of the city of peace, the mystical Jerusalem; and you have heard the language of the city of confusion, which Scripture terms 'the spiritual Sodom.' Which of these two languages do you understand? which of them do you speak?"
Pascal would have issued his evangelical call to repentance: "Your murderous decisions being thus universally detested, it is highly advisable that you should now change your sentiments, if not from religious principle, at least from motives of policy. Prevent, fathers, by a spontaneous condemnation of these inhuman dogmas, the melancholy consequences which may result from them, and for which you will be responsible."
But alas, the spirit of Pascal--like the spirit of St. Ignatius of Loyola--was not among the compromised Jesuits that day to clear out Satan's smoke, and so the jesuitical temporizers won the day at the "Robber Council" of Hyannis Port. Corruptio optimi pessima.
Though Pascal and St. Ignatius were absent, God himself was, however, there, as he is anytime there is a decision over life and death. And He asked the question of them--whether they heard it or squelched it so that they would not hear it we shall not know, but God knows: "Consider that I have set before you this day life and good, and other the other hand death and evil." (Deut. 30:15)
At best, what happened at this "robber council" was a failure of nerve, a rejection of the Gospel, an act of moral cowardice that led Frs. Jonsen, Fuchs, Drinan, Millhaven, McCormick, and Curran to compromise the Gospel of Life that day at Hyannis Port. At worst, it was an express and intentional and knowing rejection of the Gospel of Life.
Like Esau, they either foolishly or intentionally exchanged their inheritance for a mess of pottage. (Gen. 25:29-34) Either way, not a pretty sight.
Let them drink that mess or pottage to its dregs, and live with the moral heartburn of their decision and confront the Lord of Life with it on their conscience as a blot.
As for me and my house, I chose life for many reasons, but perhaps foremost for the seemingly paradoxical reason that I no longer want to live I, but rather would have Christ live in me. (Gal. 2:20) And I know that if I do not chose life for the little ones, then I have also forsaken Christ, for whatever we have done or allowed to be done to the least of our brothers, we have done or allowed to be done to Christ. (cf. Matt. 25:40)
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at email@example.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: abortion, dissent, Andrew M. Greenwell
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