Fr Frank Brennan better have his answer ready…

Local Jesuit agitator, Fr Frank Brennan, thinks that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference got it wrong when they made a “blanket determination, in the absence of any published reasoning [???!!!] distinguishing both formal and material cooperation and permissible and impermissible material cooperation” declaring that Australian Catholics should “seek other avenues of defending human rights” than through financial support of the now officially pro-abortion Amnesty International.

In an article in Eureka Street entitled “Don’t Boycott pro-choice Amnesty” he argues that “within the framework of Catholic moral reflection…the issue does not permit such a blanket determination” because of all the other worthy things Amnesty does. Or more or less that anyway. He imagines a fictional situation in which a conscientious Catholic financially supporting Amnesty “could ask that Amnesty establish bookkeeping practices which would quarantine flagged payments from abortion activities.” Ha! Amnesty officials have already made it quite clear that they will do no such thing–even if it were possible!

And then he has the gall to quote Bishop Anthony Fisher’s excellent article in his defence. I don’t think the good bishop would agree with Fr Brennan on the way he applies the principles outlined in his paper. (Is this a backhanded revival of the old animosity between the Dominicans and the Jesuits?)

Yet it should be noted that this is not a “Jesuit vs Church” issue, as the leading exponent for ceasing support of Amnesty Internation in the Catholic Church in Australia is also a Jesuit, Fr Chris Middleton, Principal of St Aloysius College in Sydney. You can read what he had to say here.

All I can say is, taking up the idea of Archbishop Chaput quoted in an earlier blog: Fr Brennan better be confident of explaining his rationale for continuing to support Amnesty International to Jesus and the victims of abortion when he meets them.

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7 Responses to Fr Frank Brennan better have his answer ready…

  1. Australian Atheist says:

    There seem to be small movements generally, in the Catholic Church, towards a more reasonable stance on this issue.

  2. Schütz says:

    I am surprised, AA, that you would chose a column by Diogenes as your example in favour of what you call “a more reasonable stance on this issue”!

    For a start, what is “reasonable”? The Australian Catholic Bishops have been very “reasonable” about this. They have “reasoned” the matter. They believe that they could explain this “reason” to Jesus and the the victims of abortion when they meet them in heaven. Could Fr Brennan explain his “reasons”?

    I love the bit in Diogenes where he quotes the US bishops as saying “Reluctant compliance emerged as the only viable option.” His reply? “Apart from principled civil disobedience, of course”. Touche, Diogenes.

  3. Australian Atheist says:

    Sorry for my lack of clarity.

    I mention the Connecticut bishops’ theological flexibility regarding the morning after pill.

    My point is that theology changes with reality. Just as church doctrine was modified after Galileo and Darwin, so too will it evolve as societies appreciate the immorality of forcing rape victims to give birth.

    The teachings that god created the earth in 6 days, and that emergency contraception and abortion are wrong are not divinely mandated. They are man made.

    For the church, like any other institution, the most important thing is survival.

    If the church was still preaching creationism and that the earth is flat it would be ignored.

    The same will happen on ethical issues. There is no secular reason to prevent access to abortion.

    Frank Brennan and the Connecticut bishops are just the beginning.

  4. Schütz says:

    “My point is that theology changes with reality.”

    Or at least the expression of theological truths changes with the our changing perceptions of reality. I will grant that. Everything in context, as I always say. An expression or confession of the Truth in the context of a certain world view may have to be modified if it is to remain true (ie. continue to communicate the same truth) when the contextual world view alters.

    “The teachings that god created the earth in 6 days, and that emergency contraception and abortion are wrong are not divinely mandated. They are man made.” The “teaching” may be man-made, but the story that God created the world in 6 days is divinely inspired. Make of it what you will–again in the context of the world view of the time, what this story expressed was true.

    I am not quite sure what “emergency contraception” is supposed to mean–I think you mean taking an early abortiofacient in order to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

    It is true that you will not find any mandates in the scriptures regarding abortion. Nor do you find any mandates against euthanasia. Or exposing children. However, it is also true that the ancient Jews practiced none of these, because they rightly understood the commandment “you shall not kill” as applying to all human life, including life in utero.

    Here, with all our great scientific understanding of “reality” as you say, we know today more than ever that there is absolute continuity between the child and the fertilized egg in the womb. Killing this unique living human being is against the greatest of the Divine Commandments regarding the way in which we should treat other human beings.

    If anything our modern context of understanding reality should increase our understanding of the moral evil of abortion, not decrease it.

  5. Australian Atheist says:

    Yes, we know more about development in the womb, but I was referring more the growing moral and political consensus that the abortion of a day old fetus is insignificant when compared to forcing a rape victim to continue with pregnancy to birth. It is this realisation that Brennan and the Connecticut bishops may be acting on.

  6. Schütz says:

    Re: your “trackback” entry:

    What a terrible misunderstanding of the value which Christians place upon life in THIS world!

    The logic of your argument here is that Christians would be morally justified in killing everyone who was ever conceived–the earlier the better!

    On the contrary, true Christianity values life in this world as having no less value than eternal life in heaven, even with all its heartache and suffering.

    It is only living our life to the full here on earth among other human beings which gives any true meaning to life in the hereafter.

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