Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bryan Hehir and the "Fair Adjudication" of Catholic Conscience Protections

Local Catholics have been circulating a story (and video) from the Magazine from that bastion of Catholic orthodoxy Boston College that's another brick on the foundation Cardinal O'Malley, Bryan Hehir and the Marxists at the Kennedy School of Government are building in this country.

Hehir took part in a panel discussion at Boston College called "Clashes of Conscience"along with local OB-GYN Dr. Michael Greene who does babies a favor before partially delivering them and decapitating them alive by injecting them with lethal drugs.

"In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, many abortion providers in Boston and around the country have adopted a defensive tactic. To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures.

Greene said that in the experienced hands of hospital staff, the injections add no risk and are "trivially simple," compared with other obstetrical procedures. The main downside, he said, is that "it is yet another procedure that the patient has to endure."
Patients have not objected to the injections, he said.
"They all are appreciative of what we do for them and understand the circumstances under which we work," Greene said.

Hehir's contribution as one of the "worlds leading experts in ethics" was a discussion on what rights Catholics should have in "a pluralistic society" to "provide care to all who need" the morally evil services of Dr. Greene and his colleagues.

Hehir started out by saying it was fair to argue there are deep cultural moral fragmentations in American society.  With bioethics and other affecting gender and family, there is a more contested public agenda based on moral and cultural arguments. 

What was the conclusion about what rights should be built into a society for Catholics who in good conscience cannot participate in moral evil that is civilly legal in the long-winded screed of Cardinal O'Malley's Cabinet Secretary who shapes public policy?

Here are some excerpts:

There are tensions when you try to provide public service that don’t always lie under laws you necessarily agree with and in terms of choosing our future, we need to ask question what could be lost if we don’t find a fair adjudication of this issue.

Conscience clauses are about protecting the professional but we must also think about access of service on the part of clients, patients of all kind.

There is going to be balancing in the resolution of this question.

What could be lost if we don’t do this well?

My sense is what could be lost is on one hand is damage to profession involved and what also could be lost is characteristic of social system. Unless we choose well on this, we could harm social system. We could harm individual who needs precisely the service.

My basic position is, that conscience clauses provide essential political legal component to adjudicate deeply held convictions positions in this pluralistic society but the resolution requires defining issues broadly.

You've got to pay attention to ALL the actors, their beliefs and the duties involved and recognize that conscience clauses will limit the rights of others to some degree.

Yes, why would Catholics focus our attention and efforts in public policy on lobbying to limit the rights of people to kill other people or ensure we can be excused from taking part in the ceremonious murders and moral evils when we can pay attention to ALL the actors and our duties to provide these services least we implode the social service system.

Let's cut to the chase: Hehir's final conclusion.

How do you deal with that tension. Conscience clauses should be claimed only for essential issues – not capaciously.
You have the State take away the rights of the individual person to make a judgment about a moral evil and assert their constitutional rights themselves and replace it with public policies that make decisions for them about what moral evils are protected with conscience clauses and which ones are not.

But then you can't have it both ways, can you.

Either every person whose conscience is formed has the right to make a judgment on their own and assert their rights to make decisions about their salvation or they have a society that takes those judgments away.

What form of governance takes away individual rights to make decisions about your salvation? 

It isn't democracy.

Is it Marxism or Communism? 


Hehir, by the way, was introduced as "one of the country’s most influential Catholic thinkers on both foreign and domestic policy".   

When Cardinal O'Malley needed a crackerjack on public policy to shape our future, these are the influential ideas he was attracted to.  But, Catholics smelling the sulfur continue to proclaim the truth in the public square.

Here's a response from Diogenes:

To be fair, the phrasing of that message (apart from the 2-word quote) was done by the magazine reporter, not Father Hehir. We can blame the reporter for using telltale terms like "abortion provider" rather than "abortionist," and "morning-after contraceptive" rather than "abortifacient pill." Still, assuming that the reporter came within shouting distance of Father Hehir's intent, let's take a closer look:
...we put at risk the health-care profession, the patient requesting the services, and the role of non-profits in the social welfare system,...
 What's missing from that list of endangered values? The individual conscience: which was, you may recall, the subject of the evening's panel discussion. Father Hehir's concern about health-care institutions and non-profit agencies was expressed clearly enough to make an impression on the Boston College Magazine reporter. His concern for individual Catholics who might be compelled by law to perform immoral actions wasn't so memorable.

Finally, Hehir concluded with his thoughts about the conscience:

Whenever I talk about capacity, it's a process and then a judgment.  That is to say, in beginning, the conscience is not a faculty as such as much as it's a product of our intelligence.  It is a capacity to know the moral.  It is a human capacity, a distinguishing characteristic of being human, is to know the moral.    A human capacity that has the ability to know moral in personal and social.   Every now and then – we encounter human beings and we think they don’t know capacity to know moral at all.  Every human being in principle has ability to know moral but every once in a while we meet a person who has not brought that to fulfillment.  Conscience on the other hand is a process. There is a formation of conscience and that is where intelligence comes in, learning comes in and you draw from multiple places and conscience can be corrected.  Finally conscience is a judgment – here is where I stand, I'm willing defend what I’ve done and pay the consequences.   Integrity is how you combine personal, professional, public and political.  I want political figures that have capacity to know moral in midst of complex political choices we face.

Pretty slick for a man who has been front and center in misleading the Kennedys.  

What exactly is the capacity of an ethical consultant who worked on getting Obama elected to know moral?

What kind of integrity does a person have when they sneak under the radar to draft excuses for the process at Notre Dame when they violated Catholic teaching by granting Barack Obama an honor?

The spin of electing a politician who believes in and works for policies on the genocide of the unborn.

It reminds of me of how a rat can make his body teeny-weeny to climb through a pinhole.

So then, what is missing from his half-baked understanding about the conscience?  

Sacramental Grace.  

Grace is needed to pull the process together and draw the conclusions.  

Those lacking grace can have as many degrees as they have pairs of socks and still not be able to know the truth when they hear it.  A village idiot who possess grace can outwit a half dozen Chancery wizards making close to 2 million dollars.

This manifested itself in Our Lord's ministry when the fishermen Christ chose to impart wisdom and the teachings of the Church were frustrated because they couldn't get through to all the brainiacs in town and Christ said they weren't getting it because they are perishing. 


TheLastCatholicinBoston said...

That what I'm talking about!
Well done Carol.

That painting leave me speechless.

The dude is Rasputin.

My four year old knows right from wrong. Her conscience is not subject to her intelligence it is subject to her love. I can't wait to see Hehir go down hard, and I think its coming.

Hehir is lov'n that apple from eve isn't he? As his birthdays start to click along and the schmoozing starts to loose its luster, Bad Hehir will be waking up in the dark in a cold sweat. If he is the communist plant, I lean toward suspecting, he'll grind his teeth and take a valium. If he is not, may he be prompted to revisit the sacrament of confession.

Carol McKinley said...

Thanks LCIB for the kind comments.

The painting was inspired by the Divine Comedy - Dante and Virgil in Hell.

I've been itching to read the Divine Comedy again.