Jon O’Brien and the Lies of ‘Catholics for Choice’
By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online 9/17/2008
Our Bishops have taken a courageous stand this election cycle. ‘Catholics for Choice’ is engaged in a campaign of lies and disinformation.
At the beginning of 2008, Francis Kissling retired. She was the heretical dissident and foundress of a group formerly known as “Catholics for Free Choice” and now known as “Catholics for Choice”. It would have been welcome news but for the fact that she replaced herself with an equally notorious dissident named Jon O’Brien. O’Brien came to the organization from his position with the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Bureau in London. Archbishop Charles Chaput once rightly said of this nefarious organization that it is “a tool to use against the Catholic Church, nothing more”. He was correct. Kissling retired after devoting 25 years to opposing the Catholic Church while leading an organization that has the audacity to actually use the name “Catholic” in its title. It has been openly and repeatedly renounced by that Church.
Having proven that he is an avid supporter of abortion on demand, O’Brien was also an admirer of the regime of Francis Kissling. He called her “a prophetic voice,” in an article he wrote entitled “How Catholics for a Free Choice Saved Civilization.” Now in an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “Pelosi views on abortion in synch with most Catholics” O’Brien tries to establish himself and his organization as a new teaching office of sorts. He wrote, “The U.S. bishops are erroneous in not reflecting the fullness of Catholic teaching on abortion nor what the majority of Catholics nationwide believe.” He compounded his absolute lack of integrity with this claim, “It is telling that the conference of bishops chooses to omit mention that no pope has proclaimed the prohibition of abortion an “infallible” teaching.”
Mr. O’Brien let me give you only one of many instances where the infallible nature of the prohibition is affirmed: “Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. “Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action”. (Gospel of Life, Par. 57)
Not that it truly matters. O’Brien and his predecessor simply reject the teaching of the Catholic Church and make their living confusing the public and poorly catechized Catholics. However, what is also tragic is Jon O’Brien’s notion of “conscience” which is equally in error. He writes,“Catholic theology tells individuals to follow their personal conscience in moral matters – even if it is in conflict with church teaching.” What O’Brien fails to mention is that our conscience is to be formed. It is not some vague feeling or opinion. This explains why the Bishops titled their recent directive to the Catholic faithful “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility.” In their instruction they wrote: “This statement highlights the role of the Church in the formation of conscience, and the corresponding moral responsibility of each Catholic to hear, receive, and act upon the Church’s teaching in the lifelong task of forming his or her own conscience. With this foundation, Catholics are better able to evaluate policy positions, party platforms, and candidates’ promises and actions in light of the Gospel and the moral and social teaching of the Church in order to help build a better world….We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.”
The Bishops were restating the integral teaching of the Catholic Catechism and the trajectory of the entire Christian Tradition on the necessity of properly educating and forming our consciences. The Catechism of the Catholic Church treats this in Article 6 entitled “Moral Conscience” (See, Sections 1776 – 1802). This is what St. Paul had in mind when he instructed the Christians in Rome on the implications of living their faith in a culture which was being corrupted by many of the problems we currently face in the West. He told them “…I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect”. (Romans 12: 1-2)
The problem is that many Catholics do not understand the fact that we must educate our consciences in order to ensure that they conform to the truth, revealed in the Natural Law and expounded upon in Revelation. People like Jon O’Brien continue to spread the confusion in order to promote their own agenda. There has also been some poor teaching in the arena of moral theology which left the faithful confused and open to his deception.It has led to people speaking as though “conscience” somehow equates with our “feelings” or is an aspect of our own opinion. Not only do our consciences need to be formed, they can also become deformed and regularly need to be re-formed. Sadly, there are too many politicians who are professed Catholics and yet stand publicly for political and policy positions which are directly at odds with the teaching of the Church and the Natural Law on the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death, on marriage and on other vital issues.
Fortunately, our Bishops have taken a courageous stand in correcting Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden this election cycle. They did so in order to help these two errant Catholics to return to the truth, expose the lies perpetrated by people like Jon O’Brien and help all of the faithful to know – and live – the truth. [Ed: see "Bishops correct Pelosi and Biden" below]
Bishops correct Pelosi and Biden: