I must admit I was a bit surprised by the number of responses to my post about Lila Rose and her tactics with Live Action. I appreciate some of the counter-points and reactions or statements from a variety of different sources.

Some have been sadly uncharitable. I say sadly not because I was hurt, offended and cried myself to sleep over them (I’m a big boy, been a priest 12 years and have heard worse). It’s sad because some responses were filled with vitriol, anger and questioned my fidelity to the Church, my obedience to the Church, my holiness - in short my priesthood. For those who so questioned, you can rest assured, “My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done” (Psalm 51)

I know that I do not hold a Moral Theology degree, nor do I work full time as a Professional, Full-Time Pro-Life Advocate. I am a Priest of Jesus Christ who works full-time at trying to be obedient to my calling. Right now, the Lord has me working full-time as a Campus-Minister. And the reasoning for me even bringing up Lila Rose was in response to some of what they heard and questioned at a recent conference we attended.

All that being said, a few people’s responses have caught my attention in this debate on Lila Rose and I just offer a few thoughts:

1- “What would Jesus Do”: I am sorry if you disagree with me on this, but I find it hard to imagine that our Lord would use methods of deception in order to call someone to conversion, to call someone to the truth. Look at all His encounters with “sinners” – well that’s all of humanity, let me be more specific - with people entrapped in lives of sin.

He being Fully Divine and Fully Human obviously he has a vision and a wisdom beyond our understanding. But you never see him going up to the tax collector and trying to “cut a deal” with him to point out how the tax collector is sinning and then calling him to conversion. He doesn’t proposition a prostitute in order to certify she is a prostitute, condemn her for her sinfulness and then call her to change her life.

People were attracted to Jesus because they were attracted, hungering, longing for the truth which he enfleshed.

For those of us wishing to see an end to the evil curse of Abortion, and call upon Jesus to help bring that curse to an end, I just don’t see doing anything that, at a minimum, is questionable is a way that will bring it about, or something that “Jesus would do.”

2 - The many different arguments from a variety of respected, distinguished theologians and philosophers offer thought-provoking arguments. But, as we often find in heated arguments, we can simply read those sides that we agree with. There’s just as many arguments from just as distinguished theologians and philosophers offering contrary, thought-provoking arguments.

My discomfort remains after reading many different thoughts on this. Many of the arguments offered seem to me to be looking for loopholes to some basic, central teachings of the Church from Scripture and tradition.

Examples that are being cited seem to me to be incorrect or applied wrongly in these instances. Again, people are free to argue differently on that. But the fact that there’s such a difference of opinion and lack of unity from Pro-Lifers, Catholic Theologians, Philosophers should give us pause before full-heartedly embracing what Lila Rose and Live Action is doing as “God’s work.”

This November I will turn 38. The year I was conceived and born was the first year that abortion was legalized in the United States. So I have lived my entire life under this dark cloud of sin that has skewered and altered our generation in countless diabolical ways. I would hope that as we continue to debate the best way we can bring Christ’s light and love to this plague, knowing that it is Him alone who is victorious over sin and death...that we can proceed in a respectful manner.

May we never forget that those of us committed to the Gospel of Life are united against the destruction and slaughter of millions of innocents. May our love for Jesus Christ, for life, and one another guide us.


Michael said...

Father Jim,

Have you considered how Lila view's your post and opinion, and that of others? You chose to call her out on your public blog...is this not publically questioning Lila's fidelity to the Church, her obedience to the Church, her holiness?
You write "It’s sad because some responses were filled with vitriol, anger and questioned my fidelity to the Church, my obedience to the Church, my holiness - in short my priesthood."
Did you take this more personally than Lila would? I can assure you in my message in regard to what you wrote in your blog about Lila Rose, there was no anger toward you, nor do I question your dedication to the the Gospel of Christ. At the same time, I was truly saddened and disappointed that a teacher of the Church, with a public blog, would write as you did about an individual, since by nature of your position many give a sense of authority is given to what you say and write.
You clearly label Lila's actions as "evil" and "lying": "While I appreciate her passionate defense of the most defenseless, as Catholics we need to be very cautious about using evil means (in this case, Lying) to conquer an even greater evil (Abortion)"
Your post gave me the impression that this is the default truth with no room for discussion. Monday a Catholic radio host talked about this, and callers and the host gave due respect to both sides of the arguement.
So, I would have rathered you not single Lila out individually, that you would have given this more thought before writing as you did what appeared to me as the only acceptable view. I was left wondering, why you would chose to single out and rebuke a young devote Catholic lay woman with a proven record in the pro-life debate, yet I am not aware of you singling out and rebuking fellow priests and bishops in your blog. Other priests have done so, one recently in the Philadlphia Inquirer. Surely you have a thought or two on the lies and cover-up by Bevilacqua, Lynn, and others, or about the former priest in Reading who recently married the high school student whose parents caught on video the affair he was having with their daughter in their house. Surely writing about this might take more courage than singling out Lila.
While I disagree with your opinion in this regard, and your choice to air it on a public blog, I do thank you for your service to the Church.



Fr. Jim Chern said...

Michael -

If you read or listen to Lila's interviews, she herself describes her actions as "lying". Had she not I would have left it more general/not identify her.

In terms of lying: "The firm teaching of the [Catholic Church], reconfirmed in the Catechism, is that lying is intrinsically immoral, and is therefore impermissible even as a means of preventing grave injustices and other evils. We must not forfeit our standing in the [Abortion] debate as the tellers of truth.” - Professor Robert George of Princeton University (and one of the drafters of the Manhattan Declaration)

As for the other examples you cite, I do not wish to rehash the Priestly Sex Abuse Scandal here when we're discussing another issue. Suffice it to say, I was disgusted by the actions and inactions of many involved with that - and it's a wound that still hurts - personally and as a Church.

Michael said...

Father Jim,

According to your interpretation of a paragraph or more of the CCC, how do you view these verses:
John 7:8-10: Did Jesus lie or deceive His brothers?

Did Jesus lie in Mt 15:24, 26 in speaking with the Canaanite woman?

Do we read Mt 18:8-9 as a lie, or are we to take the words in context and the intention?

Looking at Mt 12:33-37, I would say Lila and Live Action are not guilty in this case of careless words.."the tree is known by its fruit...For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart."

In Mt 25, would Lila's actions be seen more in the verses of Mt 25:37-40, and Msg Lynn more in the verses of Mt 25:41-45?

Are we living out Mt 23:24 in regards all the talk about Lila, while we need a several grand juries to point out the camel?

I think it is helpful to look at the basics. In my view, Lila committed no offense against the Ten Commandments, including Ex 20:16 and Dt 5:20 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"
In this regard, nothing was done against her neighbor, rather for the good of her neighbor.

Thank you for your reply,


Fr. Jim Chern said...

Michael -

I really don't want to get into a ping pong/back and forth with you where you put quotes or other points, I research, give responses and then you find new ones.

It's obvious you've made peace with Lila's tactics and are comfortable with that. From my 8 years of studying Philosophy and Catholic Theology, I cannot find any justification in my education, nor is their any comfort in my heart on this.

I realize that our united goal is to see the end of the killing of innocent babies. Another sad point is how this whole debate seems to have distracted us from that goal.

In any event my point in raising this issue was to address the students who I minister to who heard Lila's talk at the FOCUS conference we attended and were uncomfortable with her talk/presentation (by the way, we are all pro-life).

I've yet to see any clear indication that Lila's tactics are at best questionable. That numerous people are trying to find loopholes in Catholic Moral Teaching, taking scriptural quotes out of context all to somehow justify Lila and Live Actions practices is troubling to me, sets terrible precedents, and, even worse, seems desperate.

The beauty of the Church's dealing with the horror of abortion is that Jesus Christ is our Hope. As we preach, teach and try to live the Gospel of Life, that is where our victory is found. To resort to, again, questionable at best tactics -- more often seen on MSNBC than in the Church... well, I just think that Jesus expects better from us.

Michael said...

Father Jim,

You have declined to answer in regard to Solomon, or any of the Scripture verses I referenced. They merely require either "yes, that is lying/immoral", "no, that is not lying/immoral", or "I don't know (after 8 years of Philosophy and Catholic Theology.)"...so it's not anywhere near ping-pong/back and forth since you haven't engaged/addressed one question I put forth in regard's to "lying".
I found Dr. Smith's and Dr. Kaczer's comments interesting, as well as Lila's statement:
"On Feb. 18, Live Action President Lila Rose provided CNA with a statement responding to her critics, reproduced here in its entirety.

"Live Action is a small, pro-life grassroots organization, and one of our primary goals is to unmask the lies of the abortion industry and lobby,” she wrote. “We are not about deception; we are about the truth.”

“Some Catholic intellectuals,” she acknowledged, “have a problem with Live Action's practicing of established methods of investigative work.”

“We in no way mean to dismiss their opinions, but we are in profound disagreement with them.”...

I was encouraged that you state "Suffice it to say, I was disgusted by the actions and inactions of many involved with that - and it's a wound that still hurts - personally and as a Church." However, which were you more disgusted by, Lila's group's tactics, or the cover-up/silence/today's "lame" apology related to the Church scandal? Can I assume you blogged in proportion to your level of disgust for one versus the other? Or is Lila a "safer" target to blog about?
Interestingly, I happened to read part of Esther tonight, where she hid the fact that she was Jewish. Wasn't that a little deceiptive silence?

I hope you have a blessed weekend!


Fr. Jim Chern said...

Yes Michael, I did decline to answer the scripture verses, as I explained in my answer above.

You persist in trying to tie comparisons with other moral problems and difficulties. Not that I owe an explanation, but since for some reason you seem to say that if I failed in addressing one moral failure that I should refrain from addressing any other ones, I will explain that no, I did not blog about the pedophilia scandal as I did not have a blog back then and have only been in my present assignment 3 and a half years.

I don't see Lila as a target, not trying to make her one...but I don't see her as a champion either.