In a signed op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich listed a series of social ills that he says people should find just as appalling as the gruesome ripping apart of unborn children and the sale of their organs by Planned Parenthood.
The Archbishop wrote that the strong negative reaction to the release of the videos showing Planned Parenthood physicians discussing the market for organs harvested in abortions was a sign of hope. It “unmasked the fact that, in our public conversation about abortion, we have so muted the humanity of the unborn child that some consider it quite acceptable to speak freely of crushing a child’s skull to preserve valuable body parts and to have that discussion over lunch.”
As repulsive as commerce in the body parts of defenseless children is, however, he said:
We should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.
By insisting on the moral equivalency of many different societal problems, the Archbishop reduces the particularly heinous moral offense of slaughtering the unborn and trading in their body parts to just another social ill, no worse than unemployment or the death penalty.
It would seem that people who are “no less appalled” by the execution of a convicted serial killer than by the ripping apart of an innocent child may be morally obtuse, rather than morally superior. As Congressman Henry Hyde once said, “Show me an unborn child who has been convicted of a capital crime by a jury of his peers, and he’s all yours!”
In 2004, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger —the future Pope Benedict XVI—made the very important distinction that “[n]ot all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.” Ratzinger said that despite the Church’s general opposition to war and the death penalty, for instance, “it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment.”
“There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty,” he said, “but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
Two days after the response of Archbishop Cupich to the Planned Parenthood scandal was published, the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, released his own assessment of the story.
Dolan noted that for decades, “the advocates for legal abortion — with Planned Parenthood in the forefront — have minimized or denied the humanity of the unborn child,” whereas “those tricks of misleading language are no longer viable, thanks to the Planned Parenthood staff members who were captured on these undercover videos, with their callous bluntness about what they were actually doing.”
Now that “the folks at Planned Parenthood finally told the truth about what they are actually doing when they abort over 300,000 babies each year,” the public is rightly up in arms, he wrote.
The cardinal chose not to list off everything else that is wrong with society, preferring to hold up this one, particularly egregious, moral evil and let it stand by itself in all its horror.
This is not the first time that Archbishop Cupich has “contextualized” the evil of abortion.
A regular contributor to the Jesuit magazine America, in 2008, Cupich wrote a piece against racism, just prior to the presidential election. In it, he suggested that voting on the basis of race is morally equivalent to voting for a pro-abortion candidate.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.