Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Jesuit's perspective on abortion

Newsweek's website has a remarkable piece by a physician and Jesuit scholastic on abortion and the abortion debate. [H/t the Curt Jester.]

The comments are also quite illuminating: of the 22 that are on there right now, all but two are pro-abortion. Some are respectful; most are full of utter disdain.

Br. Blazek makes an important point:
How do I kill other people in the abortion debate? I kill in the use of words to wound rather than to convince. Making personal attacks against others places me again at risk of pride and wrath. Note well: when discussing abortion, one sometimes hears, "You will never change anyone's mind about this. People think what they think." If the abolitionists and suffragettes had denied the possibility of change in their fellow citizens' opinions, this country would still have slavery and women without the vote. Denying the possibility of conversion is to deny the possibility of grace: it plays into the hands of the enemy of our human nature.
His piece is quite stirring (and seems to me to be more appropriate for an intra-ecclesial conversation, than a public ad extra piece). However, it seems to me to underscore the need to make public arguments against abortion on purely secular grounds. Opposition to abortion is just too widely seen as a purely Catholic/Christian/religious/fundamentalist perspective, an "imposition" of one group's values on a secular society.

On a slightly divergent note: at what point does our society consider the human embryo to be a human person, endowed with the rights and dignity that pertain to personhood? What, in our society, makes a human being a human person? The answer seems to be quite clear: the mother's will.

Mike Aquilina describes in chilling detail another society, a world very familiar to the early leaders of Christianity, a world in which personhood was conferred by the will of the father.

I suppose it could be considered progress that we have abandoned the ways of patriarchy in this regard?


Jason nSJ said...

It was a good article. And this is completely an aside which has nothing to do with the post, but, a Jesuit scholastic (that is, a Jesuit studying for the priesthood) is correctly addressed as Mister, not Brother.

There are Jesuits who are vowed as brothers not studying for the priesthood, so the address matters.

Blessings to you!

Fr. Andrew said...

To the issue on hand, did you read about Peter Kreeft's debate in Boulder, CO? Fine example of proposing the faith with clarity and on natural principles. See the CNA article.

To add a tidbit on Jason's comment, I believe a Jesuit may be ordained but not a full Jesuit. If I recall, Fr. Fessio was in such a situation for a while.

Jason nSJ said...

Fr. Andrew,

Indeed, Jesuit priests do not profess final vows until after ordination, which is quite different than other religious orders, and our first vows are perpetual, rather than temporary for one year.

Some years after ordination, a Jesuit will make his Tertianship (literally the third stage of formation), which includes repeating the full Spiritual Exercises, and some time after this he will be invited to profess solemn vows. This period of time varies for individual Jesuits.

P.S. Sorry, "Gashwin," I don't meant to hijack your comment box!

Gashwin said...

Jason, no problem! You're always welcome to comment!

Thanks for the clarification on the nomenclature. In India, the custom is to refer to any seminarian (diocesan, religious) as "brother." I got that as well on my apostolate at the nursing home in DC while I was with the Paulists, especially from the South Asian residents.

I'm somewhat familiar with the Jesuits in India, at least of the Bombay Province. They educated me from 5th grade through college. I have a few good friends in the Province. I've spent a lot of time at the SJ formation house in Pune (near Bombay) -- retreats, hanging out with scholastics, etc. It seemed that the SJ scholastics were officially referred to as "Brother" (and not just the lay brothers -- there were a few of those at the college as well). It sounds like this was a cultural practice, rather than official nomenclature.

My continued prayers for you, Jason, during your novitiate.