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The cult of the fetus


Good column by Garry Wills about the United States Conference of Cafeteria Catholic Bishops and the one item on their menu, which has no actual basis in scripture:

This new cult of the fetus was not observed in the long history of the bishops’ own church. When my wife and I were in England in the 1960s, her doctor there said she was at severe risk of a miscarriage and consigned her to immobility in bed. I did not know what my Catholic Church prescribed about treatment of a miscarried baby, if that should occur. I went to John Henry Newman’s Oratory fathers, where I had been attending Mass, and asked what I should do in that event. They looked puzzled and said the hospital should handle that.

I found, in later questions, that the church did not prescribe or recommend baptizing a miscarriage as if it were a full human being, nor giving it last rites, nor burying it in consecrated ground. My Catholic grandmother, Rose Collins, had three or four miscarriages, but told me she did not worry about how the discharges were disposed of — she had four living children to care for.

The Catholic Church no longer claims that opposition to abortion is scriptural. It is not a religious issue. It is called a matter of natural law, which should be discernible by natural reason. Yet as the Catholic judge John T. Noonan said, the most recognized experts on natural law, in universities, human rights organizations, medical and psychological bodies, do not generally oppose abortion. Nor, according to polls, do a majority of American citizens, even Catholic citizens. Some women of my own extended family have had abortions and still consider themselves Catholics. President Biden seems to be on their side, as is Pope Francis. This, of course, does not affect the American bishops. They hate this pope and this president anyway.

Quite the coincidence that the totally objective principles of “natural law” are always perfectly compatible with the most recent platform of the Texas Republican Party.

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