Monday, February 4, 2008

"Catholics" For a Free Choice?

Q - I ran across a group called "Catholics for a Free Choice" and it seems to me that they have it all wrong. Can you post about how their basic ideal of choice is very much not catholic? And that we should examine with a critical eye things that loosely use the term “catholic”?

A - Thanks for the questions. This organization has caused Catholics quite a bit of confusion (and a lot of controversy) since they were formed. We ought to first clear up the fact that they are NOT associated with the Catholic Church. They have taken on the name of "Catholic" in order to try to confuse and distract Catholics. The USCCB issued this statement, in 1993, about the group saying:
For a number of years, a group calling itself Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) has been publicly supporting abortion while claiming it speaks as an authentic Catholic voice. That claim is false. In fact, the group's activity is directed to rejection and distortion of Catholic teaching about the respect and protection due to defenseless unborn human life.

On a number of occasions the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) has stated publicly that CFFC is not a Catholic organization, does not speak for the Catholic Church, and in fact promotes positions contrary to the teaching of the Church as articulated by the Holy See and the NCCB.

CFFC is, practically speaking, an arm of the abortion lobby in the United States and throughout the world. It is an advocacy group dedicated to supporting abortion. It is funded by a number of powerful and wealthy private foundations, mostly American, to promote abortion as a method of population control.
Simply put, they are a lobbying group in DC and New York (in both the US and internationally at the UN). They push an agenda that is contrary to Catholic teaching on just about every life and family issue - in fact, they lead a campaign to have the Holy See's privileges of being a non-voting member of the UN pulled. Because of their agenda, they cannot be recognized as "Catholic" in any way, shape or form. They use the name "Catholic" without permission from the Bishops, who are the determiners of what is Catholic and what is outside the boundaries of the Church.

The reason they exist is simple. The abortion-rights groups need someone to call themselves "Catholic" because the Catholic Church is the biggest opponent of abortion. So, it is a calculated attempt to undermine the moral authority of the Church. Of course, they haven't succeeded and their attempts have fallen flat, except when heard by like-minded people who are looking for a reason for remaining in the Church and supporting abortion. They keep no membership roster, but rather they claim to speak for Catholics in the US. The reality is they speak for a minority of people and they are kept a float by pro-abortion money and foundations that use them as their "Catholic" pro-abortion voice.

So, you are correct in looking at them critically. In fact, as you state, these kind of groups should get our antennae raised. Their idea of "choice" is that we can choose to kill our children in the womb, that we can choose to redefine marriage, that we can choose to do as we wish. But, this isn't real freedom. Real freedom is the ability to choose what is good and right. Real freedom is freedom from sin and vice and from enslavement to our passions. When we find true freedom we can do no less than love others, especially the most defenseless among us. The Catechism says this about freedom:
The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to "the slavery of sin." - CCC 1733
The Catechism goes on to talk about freedom in the way this group defines it - and tells us how false freedom is ultimately a lie and a false freedom.
The exercise of freedom does not imply a right to say or do everything. It is false to maintain that man, "the subject of this freedom," is "an individual who is fully self-sufficient and whose finality is the satisfaction of his own interests in the enjoyment of earthly goods."...By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth. - CCC 1740
So, you are correct in your assessment about Catholics for a Free Choice. They are a walking contradiction - they are neither Catholic or for a true free choice.

The best advice I have when approaching a group such as this is:
1 - Continue to educate yourself as to what the Catholic Church truly teaches, so that you can properly discern what is good and true and what isn't.
2 - Steer clear of organizations such as this.
3 - Pray for the leaders and members of this organization.

Finally, on the life issues, the Church is crystal clear. There is a contradiction in being for abortion and being Catholic, regardless what this group might try to teach.

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life….

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law….

Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. - CCC 2270-2272

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