When pictures began to flow of Rep. Gabby Giffords walking out on to the House floor, nothing else came into my mind but surprise. In a momentary flashback playing through my head, I saw her on that stretcher, the funerals of others who died that day, the cryptic news stories about her progress which left me thinking she would never function at any reasonable capacity. The woman took a bullet to the head by a madman and many wondered if she would be left a "vegetable".
I was dismayed at some of the comments I saw by a small number of people, presumably, pro-life Catholic among them, who would say things that would make a pagan or non-Christian shake his head.
A true pro-lifer treats all human life as precious. We can never wish evil on someone for a good cause. There is a lot more to being a good Christian and a Catholic than being pro-life. It's not a matter of being pro-life or virtuous, we must be pro-life and virtuous. Our Lord taught us that in all things, there must be charity. Charity, which is love, is not just for those we like and agree with. We love others, in season, and out of season. We should have a righteous anger over abortion because it is murder. But that anger cannot turn into contempt and hatred for others, which is a perversion of authentic righteous anger. Fr. John A. Hardon teaches on "Righteous Anger" (emphasis mine in bold):
Justifiable indignation. It is permissible and even laudable when accompanied by a reasonable desire to inflict justifiable punishment. Christ himself was filled with righteous anger against the vendors who had desecrated the house of God. Such anger is allowable only if it tends to punish those who deserve punishment, according to the measure of their guilt, and with the sincere intention to redress what harm may have been done or to correct the wrongdoer. Otherwise the anger is sinfully excessive. The necessary provision is always that there is no tinge of hatred and no desire for revenge.
Kathryn Jean Lopez responds to the very kind of behavior with a classic example in an article at the National Catholic Register (now owned by EWTN) entitled, "Aborting charity". She starts out:
I’d like to think of myself as pro-life. I’m not a member of Congress, and I don’t have a voting record. But I’ve written a few pieces, and made a few donations, and do what I can. Not all that I should. I should do more. Maybe I will after I write this rant.
It turns out I have a whole lot of work — never mind penance — to do. Because the other day, I wrote a piece praising Hitler.
You’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, aren’t you? Color me just as confused.
When I wrote a brief “thank you” to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., for her brief but-had-to-be-overwhelming time spent on the House floor, reaction to the piece pointed directly to her abortion record.
Read the rest.... http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/aborting-charity/#ixzz1UgP3tIWt
For example, when someone re-tweeted something else I had written on Twitter, she was asked: “@kathrynlopez Is this the same Kathryn Lopez who was gushing over @Rep_Giffords’ return to her 100% pro-abort voting record?”
Except I didn’t gush over her return because she is a star of Emily’s List, the abortion-rights political action committee. And while I appreciate that numbers in Congress and elections absolutely matter — and I even appreciate the people who at times only focus on the numbers — I also appreciate that Giffords, a woman who was shot in the head in January, is my sister. She’s a child of God who has gone through a devastating trial. And in her first moment back on the House floor, she provided some inspiration. And not just a feel-good moment. Real inspiration. Brushes with death can do that. And feel free to accuse me of reading too much into a few C-SPAN moments. But it’s not the worst lesson, is it?
Abortion is, I believe, a scourge on our national soul and the human-rights issue of our lifetime. There are so many missing faces as we live our lives.
So I appreciate the passion and understanding of the deep eugenic roots of the leading abortion-rights groups that might lead someone to ask, in response to my moment of appreciation for Giffords: “Save the niceties, Kathy. What if Hitler returned to work?” But can this be the best approach? And next to an avatar of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, as this particular Tweeter uses?
I am happy to see that Gabrielle Giffords seems to have recovered well beyond any status I could have imagined. I don't have to agree with her political views to appreciate the extraordiary hurdle she has juuped by the will of God. I will continue to pray that she will someday be graced with the understanding that all human life, born and unborn, is precious.
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