Here we go again. Argentina seems ready to legalize abortion. The lower house of the Argentine Congress has voted to allow abortion, albeit with many negative votes. Action in the upper house is pending, but many worry that pro-abortion arguments will prevail there as well.
Given the religious makeup of the country, it is reasonable to assume that the vast majority of persons serving in Argentina’s legislature identify themselves as Roman Catholic, including President Mauricio Macri, who is a Catholic and graduate of a Catholic university. He personally is opposed to abortion, but says that he will not interfere if Congress votes to permit abortions.
If Argentina proceeds in the path toward approving the practice of abortion, it will be the second country with a strong Catholic tradition to accept legal abortion in 2018, after Ireland.
In Ireland, the people themselves decided in favor of abortion by going to the polls, and the responsibility belongs directly to the people. In Argentina, final action regarding abortion will lie in the hands of the Argentine congressmen who were duly and freely elected by the public. So, again, the people are responsible for making this decision.
Still, the distinction of being heavily Catholic yet friendly to abortion is hardly unique to Argentina and Ireland. Clearly something is wrong with Catholics at the grassroots level. Some American Catholics criticize bishops in the U.S. for not doing enough to stop abortions. Well, are the bishops in Argentina, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Austria or Mexico equally as sluggish in not resisting legalized abortion?
Regardless of what bishops say, people in all these places ignore the Church’s teaching and vote to tolerate abortions or vote for legislators who will enable abortion on demand.
Placing the blame for approving abortion at the feet of Catholic schools also is unfair. The curriculum of every Catholic school quite directly states that abortion is evil. For that matter, no one who knows anything about Catholicism thinks the Catholic doctrine concerning abortion is vague or imprecise.
Sermons, school lessons, Catholic media and bishops’ statements all must be relentless in condemning abortion.
Still, Catholics in the pews must recognize what abortion actually is. It is the willful killing of an innocent human being. Talk about everything else, and this reality lies at the bottom of it all.
What is happening in Argentina, Ireland, our own country and so many other places is that the notion that given moral standards — proceeding from Christian Revelation — are fading. More and more people, even practicing Catholics, say they know traditional teachings about morality, but every individual is free to ignore these teachings. Regular church-going is declining — another sign of what is occurring for the worse.
When this opinion is coupled with the culture drifting away from God, realizing that Catholics are swimming in the cultural waters of their societies, then we get what we have.
Then, here in America, absolutely in Ireland and throughout Western Europe, and in Argentina, respect for and confidence in churches as institutional, reliable sources for guidance in living are weakening by the day.
Legal abortion is a ghastly cause of death in the worst way possible — unjustly ending the life of a blameless human being who personally did nothing deserving of such a fate. Abortion also is an effect of Western culture’s walking away from God.
Certainly a critical problem in itself, abortion on demand is the consequence of an even greater problem.
Msgr. Owen F. Campion is OSV’s chaplain.