August 7, 2009

Letters to the Editor

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Better ways to share the message of human dignity, reader says

In his column, “The twisted logic underlying abortion” in the July 17 issue of The Criterion, Father Tad Pacholczyk undermines an otherwise thoughtful piece by including a favorable reference to a truly reprehensible quote by Ann Coulter that she didn’t think of the killing of the abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, as murder.

By quoting Coulter, Father Pacholczyk highlights two of the critical problems in the Church’s attempts to end abortion.

The first is an all-too-willing association with hate-mongers like Coulter.

Rather than attempting to build consensus on a common understanding of human dignity—which should be the Church’s primary focus—conservatives of Coulter’s ilk use abortion as a wedge to divide the country in the hopes that, by playing to the anger and fear of a few, they will mobilize just enough voters to win an election.

The Church’s participation in the political debate on abortion has reinforced, rather than moderated, this divisive approach.

Secondly, by suggesting that the killing of Tiller might not be murder, and might not be tantamount to the 60,000 abortions he performed over his sad career, Coulter and Father Pacholczyk seem to have lost sight of the fact that the death of these unborn children is not the only, and may not be the greatest, tragedy from abortion.

As every Catholic school child learns, the angels rejoice when the soul of a murder victim is received into heaven. They reserve their tears for the lost soul of the murderer.

Salacious references to mutilated infants may be effective in stoking the anger of those who oppose abortion, but they distort our view of the real tragedy of the practice. Frontier justice of the kind meted out to Tiller may satisfy a felt need for retribution for his actions, but it takes another kind of twisted logic to see true justice in his killing.

Until we can view Tiller as a lost soul in need of salvation—a salvation perhaps denied by an assassin’s bullet—and learn to express true love for those who have lost their way, it is unlikely our message of human dignity will be heard and, as a result, salvation for so many will remain out of reach.

- Frank Z. Riely Jr., Floyds Knobs

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