Many thanks for your frank comments, which certainly calls for a friendly response. And I hope you don’t mind if I take a few paragraphs to do this, as I feel obliged to do, especially on a blog named after the founder of my religious order. I think it's always healthy when, to paraphrase St. Paul, we can call another Christian to give an explanation for himself and his faith, so that's what I'll do.
First of all, I am unabashedly pro-life. And in case people think I’m being artfully evasive I mean this: I believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.
However, as you could see from the CNN show, I also believe that some in the pro-life movement (defined broadly) sometimes downplays the non-abortion parts of the pro-life tradition: that is, the death penalty, war, feeding the hungry, euthanasia, and so on. These are also important “life” issues. Moreover, I believe that you can be firmly pro-life, as I am, and not agree with the precise strategies, noble as they are, of every quarter of the pro-life movement in reaching our common goals.
That is, you don't have to violently disagree with the Notre Dame decision in order to be pro-life. Nor do you have to speak the use the same language, pursue the same political goals or, in general, do the same things, in order to sincerely and ardently work for an end to abortion.
Also, what I mean by a litmus test is this. Abortion is certainly the pre-eminent life issue these days, but it is not the only one. To my mind that is pretty much a litmus test, and so I think our understanding of what constitutes Catholic moral teaching needs to be broadened. Also, I question the notion of requiring non-Catholic politicians to be covered by the same strictures for honors, since they already do not agree with fundamental ideas like the papacy, church authority and so on. That would also lead to us never honoring (or even having on our boards) non-Christians. That is, could we ever honor a Jew, since he doesn't believe in the Resurrection--another Catholic teaching. At least that is how I see it.
Now, you might disagree with that analysis, which is all right. Because overall, what I was trying to call for--and perhaps I could have done this more articulately--was what we called for in our America magazine editorial, which was charity towards not simply those who are not in the pro-life camp, but perhaps more importantly, charity and fellowship with our fellow pro-lifers who disagree on how to reach our common goal. Only in this way will we all reach that goal, with God's help.
In any event, I hope you take this friendly comment as a sign of our common reverence for the sanctity of all life that God has created.
Please do keep me in your prayers.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. James Martin, SJ
My thanks to Father Martin for his thoughtful remarks. As I do disagree with some aspects of his analysis above, I'll respond a bit later with a few thoughts.
UPDATE: You can read my response here.