I’ve debated doing this post for a week now. It’s not an easy subject and certainly there is no humor to be found in it. But if my blog is to be my voice, a representation of the thoughts and feelings I’m having in the moment, then there is no way around it.
I know the following paragraphs risk alienating you. I’m well aware that many of my friends and readers have strong convictions on the subject matter and I want them to know that I respect their views immensely and hope they extend me the same. I’ll leave comments open, but please keep in mind that we are all adults here and respectful discourse is the only way we can effectively communicate.
A week or so ago, I heard bits and pieces about a little girl, only nine years old, in Brazil who was raped by her stepfather and subsequently had an abortion. The very thought of such a thing stops you in your tracks. Sure, I’m sadly aware that heinous things like this occur each and every day and we don’t need to look to Brazil to find endless evidence of evil in this world. The United States has plenty to go around. I could pontificate for hours on the need to protect our children but I know I would be preaching to the choir. Anyone reading this is already in agreement as they are most-likely a parent, loving mothers and fathers incapable of comprehending what would bring another human being, a parent no less, to the point that they would violate a child in this way – in any way.
But my writing today is not about the crime committed or the innocence lost. My anger today is focused at the Catholic Church – MY church – and it’s response to this matter. The Archbishop of Recife, Brazil excommunicated the girl’s mother as well as the doctors who performed the procedure. The Vatican this week sided with the Archbishop.
My liberal views are often at odds with the Catholic Church. My liberal views would probably be at odds with most faiths. But I’ve always felt there was a place for me in the Catholic Church despite our differences on: politics, homosexuality, the male-only priesthood, abortion. I’ve always thought that there was enough room in the pew for diverging opinions. For in my mind, it is my faith in God that brings me to my liberal beliefs in the first place.
I don’t champion abortion. I hate the very notion and need for abortion. Abortion is a terrible solution to a problem that I wish never existed. In the perfect world I envision, each and every baby conceived is welcomed with love and excitement and commitment. I look to the day when through better education, stronger family foundations and renewed responsibility to ourselves and others, no woman finds herself weighing the options between having a baby and having an abortion. But we are simply not there. And until we are, I can not stand and vote against a woman’s right to choose.
All that said, even if I found myself to the right of this argument, I can not imagine feeling differently about this particular matter. In Brazil, abortion is illegal unless the mother has been raped or could die as a result of the pregnancy. Both instances were present in this case. And I can’t imagine God’s law taking a different stance. This was a nine-year old girl, stripped of her innocence. Pregnant with twins, the stress and strain on her young body was life-threatening according to her treating physicians. The course taken by her mother and the doctor’s was the only option. The only chance this little girl had to heal…
I think the Catholic Church is out of step and unrealistic. This is clearly a case where compassion and love should have mattered more than rules and regulations. Abandoning this mother and this little girl at a time when their faith is weakest and their need greatest is appalling. God would never have turned his back on these souls and no church ever should.
I find myself being called to get back to basics in my relationship with God. All the dogma and doctrine I’ve been so concerned about all these years is getting me nowhere and seems to weaken my faith more than strengthen it. I can’t imagine not identifying as a Catholic, but I’m conflicted.
Perhaps the only answer here is turn to His words to see my way through this:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing…
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 1-3; 13
My prayers go out to this family and I hope yours will too.