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Straight Guy with the Catholic Eye: Priest parades 'seamless garment' while students walk for life

By Matt Abbott

Ah, you gotta love these "progressive" priests. (No offense to all you "progressive" nuns and laymen, er, laypersons.)

The following letter to the editor, written by Father Patrick W. Collins, a retired priest from the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois and current resident of Douglas, Michigan, was published in the June 10 edition of the Chicago Tribune:

"Someone confronted me in Augusta, Ga., in March: 'Can one be a Catholic and a Democrat?' My response: 'I hope so because I am both.'

"Well, the man told me that Edward Kennedy and John Kerry were not really Catholic and maybe I was not either. It was because their votes did not reflect the church's position on abortion, of course.

"The role of every politician is to work for legislation that will be for the common good. That is an age-old Catholic notion in the church's social teachings. I don't know why this is not mentioned in more of the conversations about Catholic politicians and Communion.

"The common good is not necessarily the ideal. It is, rather, the best that is achievable at a given time and place with a given community on a given issue.

"A Catholic politician, while personally opposing abortion on the moral level, could, in good conscience, vote for some laws, under very limited circumstances such as Roe vs. Wade, since he could discern that to be the best the country can live with.

"The politician should then feel obligated, I think, to make clear that while he supports the law, he is opposed on the moral level to people following that law.

"To me this makes good sense and should be part of the intense discussion these days.

"Also it is clear that nothing is clear in the political arena. I mean abortion is wrong, but so is capital punishment, environmental 'sin,' capitalistic greed and the war in Iraq--all have been proclaimed to be illegal and immoral by the Catholic Church leaders and many theologians and Catholics. There is room for a divergence of views among Catholic people and leaders on policies and laws apparently on all issues except abortion.

"By focusing all of the moral attention on abortion, I think we are becoming mono-maniacs and losing credibility in other areas of moral concern."

This was my response (it hasn't been published):

"I was very disappointed to read the letter by Fr. Patrick W. Collins (June 10) asserting that Catholics are too focused on the abortion issue in regard to the political process.

"On the contrary, I would submit Catholics are not focused enough on the evil of abortion; and the fact that the right-to-life is the most fundamental of all rights, despite what some morally corrupt judges and politicians have said.

"Fr. Collins believes that 'abortion is wrong,' but he essentially gives pro-abortion 'Catholic' politicians a free pass by using sophistry to suggest it might, under 'very limited circumstances,' be morally permissible to support an anti-life law.

"Would Fr. Collins also excuse a politician who would say, 'I'm personally opposed to racial discrimination, but, gosh, it is the law of the land' or some such statement - and then vote accordingly?

"I doubt it. But induced abortion is, like racism, a grave evil, and it should be treated as such.

"Fr. Collins, and those of like mind, subscribe to the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's 'seamless garment' philosophy, which basically places opposition to abortion in the same moral category as opposition to a host of other social ills. According to this philosophy, it isn't that bad if a politician supports abortion, as long as he or she is 'right' on the other issues.

"Well, I say the emperor looks better with no clothes than wearing the see-through 'seamless garment.'"

Thankfully, Jill Sanders is one who doesn't embrace the "seamless garment." Or, at least, not to the extent that she finds ways to excuse pro-abort "Catholic" politicians.

Sanders, a student at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan - and who has been mentioned before in this column - is one of 11 young people who are "crusading for life" this summer as part of the American Life League's (ALL) "Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church" campaign.

According to ALL's website (, "The Crusade is walking this summer -- a very long walk from Augusta, Maine to Washington, D.C. We have located hundreds of pro-abortion political figures who claim the Catholic faith, and nearly half of them live in the Northeastern United States. So that's where we're going. While we're on the road, we'll be praying, attending daily Mass, and witnessing to the people of the region about the simple fact that you cannot be both Catholic and pro-abortion. The walk started on May 29 and concludes on July 31."

And it's going well. Reports Sanders: "The Crusade for Life has been really amazing so far. It has given us all a lot of hope for the future of our Church to see people come out in droves to support us."

Perhaps Father Collins can say a prayer - or, better yet - offer a Mass for them.


Matt Abbott
Matt Abbott - Author,



Catholic, Abbott

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