Sometimes Respect Can Blind Us

A veces el “respeto” nos puede cegar

Fr. Frank Pavone

June 01, 2009

At least for the moment, Giovanni Maria Vian is editor of the Vatican’s newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano.” He caused a stir recently with his comments about President Obama, and by doing so, unwittingly revealed what’s at the heart of the abortion controversy. Vian stated, in an interview with the newspaper Il Riformista, “Obama has not upset the world …His speech at Notre Dame has been respectful toward every position. He tried to engage the debate stepping out from every ideological position and outside every ‘confrontational mentality.’ To this extent his speech is to be appreciated.”


 Wow. “Respectful toward every position.” To put it plainly, that’s nonsense. The position that is precisely excluded is the position of the unborn child… the position that demands absolute respect and protection for that child, not because we have come to some consensus about it, but because the child deserves it now, without compromise or delay.


 It is the position that says it is not equivalent to every other position, and that we cannot ‘agree to disagree’ about abortion. Why not? Because when someone is carrying out violence against someone else, you don’t sit back and ‘agree to disagree’ with the perpetrator. You intervene to stop the perpetrator and to protect the victim.


 But the fact that this is the forgotten position should be no surprise, because ultimately that is the problem. The child in the womb is the forgotten member of our society.


 And the tragedy of the forgetfulness that excludes these children is never more clear than when the society and its leaders who forget at the same time claim to be seeking justice for everyone, advocating for everyone, respecting everyone, and remembering everyone.


 One cannot relegate the soul, the energy of the pro-life movement just to a “position” on which one can have a civil “disagreement.” The position of pro-life advocates is in a different category, because abortion itself is in a different category. We don’t settle for civil disagreements about racism, segregation, genocide, terrorism or other human rights violations. It’s only the human rights of that forgotten brother and sister in the womb that seem not to matter enough.


 The position that sees abortion as a deal-breaker, a show-stopper, is precisely the position toward which the President is not respectful. It’s the position that allowed people to vote for him, though they said they opposed abortion. Yes, abortion is evil, they admitted. It’s just not a deal-breaker. It’s the position that prevented so many from seeing a problem with honoring President Obama with a law degree at Notre Dame. Sure, we disagree with him on abortion. But it’s not a show-stopper. We wouldn’t give the degree or the platform to a racist, but this is different. It’s the position that allows people to ignore the question of whether a Supreme Court nominee is for or against abortion. So what? It’s not like we’re putting an advocate of violence on the Court, right?


 It’s time for the blindness to end. If abortion is murder, let’s act like it.


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