Why some lives are worth more than others

I’ve read the materials the Archbishop pointed me to in response to my criticism of his Op-Ed piece in the NYT, and I think I understand his thinking (better).

In the original transcript of his NYT interview, he says:

The dignity of human life. You never violate it.

Hmmm…sounds good so far. He calls this “foundational,” But then:

Whether it’s the creation of embryos for embryonic stem cell research or abortion, are violations of the dignity of human beings, from our perspective. And you can never justify it.

Suddenly, he’s shrunk his whole emphasis on human life down to those who are less than zero years old. What about people killed in war? Well, it turns out that

You can sometimes justify going to war. You may think that the Iraq war is horrible, but there may be sometimes when you can justify [going to war]. It doesn’t have the same moral weight.

Couldn’t be clearer. The life of the child dying in the Iraqi bombing raids just isn’t worth as much as that of the frozen embryo. Sorry about that! Some things are more foundational than others!

This is a perverse viewpoint not supported by anything in scripture. But the real problems start when the archbishop combines this with his peculiar notion of the separation of church and state—something he called, if you recall, “dangerous” and “dishonest”. It’s not enough just to believe something and conduct your life in accordance with your beliefs, but you must, not should but must, on pain of perdition, also vote for politicians who agree that people that disagree with you should be thrown in jail. God wants that.

Somehow it sounds better when cloaked in soothing words such as

…the importance of our faith having a substantial impact on our public life, whether it be the generosity of our giving or the public policy we embrace in our speaking, or the positions we take in running for office or voting.

I see. Voting for Presidents who will appoint Supreme Court Justices who will throw raped teenagers in jail for getting an abortion is right up there with “generosity of giving”.

Archbishop Chaput has managed to take two radical errors of thought—that some lives are worth more than others, and that separation of church and state should be abolished—and combine them in a particularly pernicious way.

Perhaps he should consider the recent report that abortions, which went down under Clinton, have now gone up under Bush. The reason: the dismal Bush economy. Chaput must be proposing that instead of electing someone who can improve our economy, we should elect someone who will make all the girls get coat-hangar abortions in back alleys.

Apart from the merits of his position, one wonders if His Eminence has given any thought to the long-term effects of his unwise outspokenness, which will be to discredit Catholic thought in the context of the American political process, and to discourage Catholic politicians from running at all.

PS. The Archbishop responded to the comments above with a polite message:

Thank you for your reflections.

One Response to “Why some lives are worth more than others”

  1. José Says:

    Chaput\’s thinking represents some of the dark ages radicalism. The Archbishop seems to be the reencarnation of pope Boniface VIII and his \”Unam Sanctam\” publication during the early part of the 14th century. According to this Roman \”Bull\” the political powers are under and subservient to the Church.

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