While Pope Francis’ Evangeli Gaudium contained explicit defenses of the sacredness of human life and marriage, Georgetown University’s March 28 symposium focusing on the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation features two speakers seemingly at odds with those teachings.
In Evangeli Gaudium, Pope Francis urged “particular love and concern” for the unborn. “Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this,” wrote the pope. “Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.”
Among those who would seek to present the Church’s position on abortion in such a way would seem to be Georgetown professor Jose Casanova, who will be moderating a panel at Georgetown titled “A New Vision for the Church? Evangelii Gaudium and Pope Francis’ Ecclesiology.”
Casanova, in Public Religions in the Modern World, said of the Church’s defense of human life that “the absolute, fundamentalist way with which the church defends the conclusion can only raise suspicion considering the ambiguities and uncertainties built into the two premises” that human life is sacred and that humanity begins at conception.
The church's assertion that in its opposition to abortion it is only defending the rights and the human dignity of the unborn person becomes more difficult to accept, the more the church refuses to recognize that those rights may be in conflict with the rights and the human dignity of pregnant women. The moral scenario in the church's abortion play is written in such away that no right or claim could ever have precedence over or overrule the right to life of the unborn. Ultimately, it is a question of whether the church is willing to recognize the rights of women to become free moral agents and whether the human dignity of women is reconcilable with the notion that women and their consciences should be coerced into carrying unwanted pregnancies.
Speaking on the issue of “Where the Church Goes from Here” at Georgetown will be Father David Hollenbach, S.J.
According to previous reporting by The Cardinal Newman Society, Fr. Hollenbach has publicly opposed the U.S.bishops’ implementation of the mandatum, a Canon Law requirement that theologians pledge to teach authentic Catholic doctrine.
He has also publicly questioned Catholic teaching that abortion is always sinful, comparing judgments about abortion to prudential judgments about war and the death penalty. And he rejected concerns about then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s pro-abortion rights views while leading a protest against her Boston College commencement speech because of her support for the Iraq War.
In 2009, Fr. Hollenback signed a letter by Catholics United in support of President Barack Obama’s choice of pro-abortion rights Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary.
The event will be hosted by Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
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