Stephan Prothero writes a piece for CNN, asking whether or not Catholics can “abide a saint who had an abortion”? Speaking here of Servant of God Dorothy Day, who had an abortion as a young woman but went on to become one of the most prominent converted Catholics of the 20th Century, Prothero’s answer is Yes. But his answer finds no place in orthodox Catholic thought:
“Partly that is because of the Christian teaching of forgiveness. But mostly it is because of the tendency of Catholics to diverge from the official party line on questions such as homosexuality, birth control and abortion.”
In other words, Day will be accepted as a saint mostly by those who excuse her abortion, and less by those who forgive it. But as Mark Shea points out, Prothero relies on the premise that those Catholics who actually do regard abortion as a terrible crime will never welcome saints with sinful pasts:
“Has he [Prothero] never heard of the celebrated baptism of Norma McCorvey (aka “Roe” Roe v. Wade) by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life? Does he know nothing of the huge welcomes and celebrations given such figures as Abby Johnson or Carol Everett, former “abortion providers” who repented and have become lionesses of the pro-life movement? I cannot think of a single group of people more likely to celebrate a post-abortive saint than orthodox Catholic pro-lifers.”
More troubling than Prothero’s misrepresentation of pro-life Catholics, however, is his correct representation of a modern relativism indifferent to sin: “I believe they will forgive Day’s sin in part because, in their heart of hearts, many of them don’t consider it all that much of a sin in the first place.”
I wonder what Day would say.