Avery Cardinal Dulles claims that on the question of religious freedom the
difference between the nineteenth–century popes and the
Second Vatican Council concerns means only (“Religious
Freedom: Innovation and Development,” December 2001).
The popes wanted a Catholic State whereas the Second Vatican
Council merely sought State permission to “carry on [the
Church’s] mission unimpeded.” A few paragraphs later Cardinal
Dulles laments that “the greatest threat to religion, in
my estimation, is the kind of secularism that would exclude
religion from the public forum and that treats churches
as purely private institutions that have no rightful influence
on legislation, public policy, and other dimensions of public
But by following the strategy of the
Second Vatican Council this outcome is unavoidable. Pluralist society is implacably
secular because its very reason for being is to achieve social peace by suppressing
any serious discussion of foundational questions. Religion represents such absolutes
and is seen by pluralists as particularly dangerous. Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius
X, and Pius XI all knew that democratic pluralism is incompatible with Catholicism.
As Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre clearly
understood, Vatican II represented the surrender of the Catholic Church to modernism.
At its heart modernism represents the desire to be well thought of by the movers
and shakers of the world. This is a temptation from which Princes of the Church
are not immune.
Pluralists, of course, find the Second
Vatican Council’s emphasis on religious freedom just fine, because then the
Church no longer threatens the hegemony of secularism. Public life in America
is now lived as if atheism were true. In suppressing the ideal of a Catholic
state, Vatican II has betrayed Catholic teaching and has made the most cruel
mockery of thousands of martyrs who died for the faith. Those martyrs did not
die for the right to practice their religion in a pluralist setting, but for
the truth and exclusivity of the Catholic faith.
Robert L. Phillips
Professor of Philosophy
University of Connecticut
Avery Cardinal Dulles argues that the right recognized by Vatican IIto act
according to religious convictions may not disturb “just public order,” and
that Bishop Emile De Smedt denied that Dignitatis Humanae affirmed any
right to error. The State must avoid coercion, but not necessarily if religious
freedom is being misused to disturb public peace or undermine public morality.
Now Dignitatis Humanae in its prologue refers to the moral duty of all
people to enter the Church. Therefore, in a country where the great majority
are Catholic and the State has officially recognized the true religion, as Pope
Leo XIII said must be done, is not the Catholic faith part of public morality?
Therefore, might not the State legitimately prevent the public propagation of
non–Catholic religion as an offense against public morality? This was the law
according to article six of the Fuero de los Espanoles, specifically
mentioned by the Concordat between the Holy See and Spain in 1953. Article six
declared Catholicism the religion of Spain, tolerated the private practice of
other religions, and prohibited the public propagation of non–Catholic religion.
Would Cardinal Dulles consider this law compatible with Dignitatis Humanae’s
restriction of religious freedom by public morality?
Brother Ansgar Santogrossi, OSB
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Mt. Angel Seminary
St. Benedict, Oregon
Avery Cardinal Dulles replies:
Professor Phillips, like Marcel Lefebvre
and others, interprets Vatican II as if it had endorsed religious pluralism
and secularism. On the contrary, the Council taught that the “one true religion
subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church” and denied that people were morally
free to propagate any doctrine contrary to that faith (even though the State
might not have the authority to prevent them from doing so). Prof. Phillips
also misreads me as saying that the Church must seek permission from the State
to carry on her mission. That is a God–given right that no one can take from
Brother Santogrossi is probing the limits
of what Vatican II meant by public morality. While arguing that the State has
the right and duty to prevent the propagation of any religion that undermines
“just public order,” the Council did not specify exactly what public order involves.
Could one argue, as Br. Santogrossi does, that the Catholic faith itself may
be part of public morality, so that the State could prevent the propagation
of any other religion as an offense against public order? That view would, I
think, effectively negate what Vatican II lays down as the right of non–Catholic
religious bodies “not to be hindered in their public teaching and witness to
their faith” unless they abuse that right in certain specific ways. The Council
insisted that even where some one religion is established by law, “the right
of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must at the same
time be recognized and upheld.” It would be difficult to reconcile these statements
with the Spanish Concordat described by Br. Santogrossi.
Force and Violence
J. Bottom’s essay “What Violence
Is For” (December 2001) accurately portrays some of
the basic theses of René Girard’s “anthropology of the Cross,”
but it misses other crucial ones and thus misapplies Girard’s
work in interpreting recent events. The primary theses that
Mr. Bottum has missed involve the role of secularity in
shaping the history of the “Christian” West. Mr. Bottum
thus portrays too radical a distinction between the West
and its Islamic cultural counterparts in a way that suggests
the superiority of the former over the latter.
When Girard first argued for the superior revelatory power of the gospel of
Jesus Christ in Part 2 of Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World,
he immediately followed it with an analysis that did not in a like manner argue
for the superiority of “Christian” culture. The third chapter in that second
part of Things Hidden is entitled “The Sacrificial Reading [of the Gospel]
and Historical Christianity,” in which Girard traces some of the ways in which
historical Christianity has been just as violent as alternative worldviews,
if not more so, because it has lapsed into sacrificial readings of the gospel.
Because we have secularized our forms of violence under the auspices of human
institutions and ideologies—i.e., we have omitted the theological justifications
for recourse to violence and resorted to secularized forms of transcendence,
such as rule of law, democratic freedom, scientific methodology, et al.—we tend
toward seeing other people’s sacred violence as primitive.
Girard’s primary example of such hypocrisy
was the mythological (according to his elaboration of myth as the perpetrator’s
justifications for violence) notion of Mutual Assured Destruction of the Cold
War arms race that was contemporary with the writing of his book in the late
1970s. He says,
A truly wonderful sense of the appropriate
has guided the inventors of the most terrifying weapons to choose names that
evoke ultimate violence in the most effective way: names taken from the direst
divinities in Greek mythology, like Titan, Poseidon, and Saturn, the god who
devoured his own children. We who sacrifice fabulous resources to fatten the
most inhuman form of violence so that it will continue to protect us, and who
pass our time in transmitting futile messages from a planet that is risking
destruction to planets that are already dead—how can we have the extraordinary
hypo crisy to pretend that we do not understand all those people who did such
things long before us: those, for example, who made it their practice to throw
a single child, or two at the most, into the furnace of a certain Moloch in
order to ensure the safety of the others?
The last comment points to the irony
that ancient religions might even be considered superior to Western Christianity
in their use of violence to the extent that they were able in general to be
much more economical with it. Isn’t the periodic sacrifice of one or two people
preferable to the threat of a mutually assured destruction of the entire planet?
In more ancient religions, the gods are generally able to effectively justify
the right small dose of sacred violence to keep at bay the profane violence
(i.e., more random violence of individuals against one another). Since the revelation
of the Cross, those cultures and religions in closest proximity to it gradually
lose the effectiveness of divine justifications. The gospel works like an anti–sacred–violence
virus. Those cultures in prolonged, intimate contact with it gradually lose
the effectiveness of their sacred violence to act as an immunity to profane
violence. The doses of sacred violence required to contain the profane violence
grow larger and larger, reaching the level of nation against nation, genocide,
massive pollution, and many other excesses of violence common in our time.
There is one important difference in
the West, however, due to its being the closest in proximity to the gospel for
the longest time—a difference, that is, related more to historical accident
than to innate superiority. Since Girard’s thesis is that the gospel of Jesus
Christ has inexorably through the ages taken rationales for violence away from
us by revealing the gods who demand violence as idols, the West has finally
reached the point of secularity, the point at which the divine justifications
drop away altogether. We continue to claim transcendent justifications for our
violence through such instruments as the Constitution or the global market.
But these are not seen as gods, so we have difficulty understanding cultures
that rebel against secularity and continue to maintain religious justification
for their violence.
Is this a significant difference in terms
of tending to curb violence? As Girard says, it is a far from simple matter.
Has the West shown signs of killing less, or even being less ready to be killed
for its “just” causes? I think that the record shows us still to be quite ready
and willing on both counts. What has become different is our reasons, secular
ones substituted for sacred ones.
In summary, the significance of Girard’s work has not been to manifest the
superiority of “Christian” culture over other cultures. Rather, it has been
to point to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the decisive revelation of human violence
as the generating event behind all human culture, including those human
cultures that consider themselves “Christian.” The only true alternative is
the culture of God, which, coming to us through the Cross and Resurrection of
Christ, is the only nonviolent culture.
I do agree, at least in part, with Mr.
Bottum’s distinction between “soft” and “hard” pacifism. Soft pacifism does
not take seriously enough our human fallenness into cultures of sanctioned violence,
whether sacred or secular. On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Bottum’s essay is
guilty of soft justification of violence, i.e., not taking seriously enough
the violence justified in one’s own culture in contrast to another. (Mr. Bottum
distinguishes between “force” and “violence” so that he can justify our American
use of “force” to stop their “violence.”) Such softness on one’s own violence
is generally a good manifestation of why hard pacifism is so hard to come by.
(The Rev.) Paul Nuechterlein
I am grateful to J. Bottum for his fascinating essay. His observations on quasi–Christian
“soft pacifism” in the wake of September 11 are both just and important. But
I disagree with his inclusion of Arundhati Roy and Noam Chomsky in this type
of thinking, judging only by the short passages Mr. Bottum cites in his essay.
Both passages are concerned neither with appropriating victim status nor with
naive and “gooey” calls for tolerance training, but rather with facing squarely
the appalling realities that result from America’s own brand of violence.
The note sounded by both Chomsky and
Roy is admittedly rather shrill, but we must consider that their dissent comes
at a time when much of the world seems content with President Bush’s view that
this attack was simply an attempt by “evildoers” to snuff out “the beacon light
of freedom” in the world. Their dissent is important as a balance to such simplifications.
I think that Mr. Bottum hears their tone and misses their point because he assumes
that the United States represents the “Christian alternative to the sacrificial
logic by which mythic cultures are founded.”
But is our culture really founded on
this alternative? Chomsky brings up the annihilation of the American indigenous
population—are we to call what was done to them, in service of the foundational
myth known as Manifest Destiny, something radically different from the logic
of sacrificial violence? What grounds do we have for labeling that annihilation
“force” instead of “violence”? If we put aside Roy’s “doppelgänger” ideas, we
find that her passage is even more directly relevant in that it is concerned
with the ways in which the American version of sacrificial logic is currently
devastating natural and cultural goodness throughout the world.
Is this to say that because of the injustices
we have committed it was right that some violence came our way? Emphatically
no. But it is to acknowledge that the situation is more complex than one pitting
envious evildoers against beacons of light. It is to acknowledge what many Americans
felt when, with the smoke and dust still darkening the Manhattan sky, our leaders
told us to quit our mourning and start buying things we did not need. It is
not soft pacifism to ask what it is we are defending with war machines that
we knew from the outset would take the lives of many innocents.
Neither is it soft pacifism to believe
that a commitment to justice in the way we live and affect the world is part
of the consideration of whether or not our military operations are to be judged
“force” or “violence.” Of course it may not even work out to be pacifism at
all; we may end up feeling as Chesterton did as he contemplated the coming of
World War II: “We now have to defend something nearly indefensible, only because
the remedy is even worse than the disease.”
Yale University Library
New Haven, Connecticut
J. Bottum’s essay on the meaning of violence comes tantalizingly close to making
a clear point, but in my view never quite succeeds. I am with him at the start
when he says “we are very bad at symbols these days,” and I agree with his conclusion
that for non–pacifists, opposing violence with force is the right option. But
I’m still not sure how he got from A to B.
Is he trying to say that Islam is, or
at least gives rise to, “a mythic culture” that “needs violence for its foundation”?
I can see why he might hesitate to say this in so many words, but tiptoeing
around the idea and dropping hints about the elephant in the living room is
not the way to deal with it. The fact is that millions of mainstream Muslims
from a range of classes still practice bloody animal sacrifices annually at
the ’Eid–ul–Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice. Slaughtering animals (the more
the better) and distributing the meat to your family, friends, and those in
need is one of the obligations of a faithful Muslim. While human sacrifice per
se forms no part of the Islamic religion, it is abundantly clear that most faithful
Muslims are familiar with the symbolism of real blood in a way that has died
out among most of us in the Christian West.
I got my hopes up when it looked like
Mr. Bottum was going to tell us “what violence was originally . . . designed
to do.” But then he went off into attacks on Chomsky, Hitchens, and Roy, none
of whom have a clue about it either, and never got around to the point of violent
sacrifice in a mythic culture. I think there are two useful ways to look at
the question: 1) from the point of view of those making the sacrifices, and
2) from the point of view of a Christian who believes the sacrifice of Christ
has broken “the cycle of violence, sacrifice, and mimetic desire.”
From the viewpoint of those who make
violent sacrifices, the point is to appease the gods for whom the sacrifices
are made. I think Mr. Bottum needlessly confuses the practices of animal sacrifice
and human sacrifice. He mentions scapegoats and means thereby humans, but of
course the word originally referred to a live goat that was released to bear
the sins of the Jewish people into the wilderness. There is a strong element
of vengeance in the attacks of September 11 that is absent in animal sacrifice.
Nevertheless, Mr. Bottum is right about the symbolic power of sacrifice, whether
human or animal, to sustain a culture. I suspect that is one reason why ’Eid–ul–Adha
is retained in Islamic practice even today.
From the viewpoint of Christianity, all
idol worship, including animal sacrifice, is really devoted to nothing. But
demonic spirits can take advantage of those who worship idols and lead them
into deeper sin. The only spiritual beings who were really appeased by the deaths
on September 11 were the devil and his demons, who continue to inspire those
who contemplate similar acts today. The problem that Mr. Bottum correctly identifies
is that those such as Chomsky who do not believe in nonmaterial beings literally
cannot make sense of the kinds of things done by those who still speak and act
in powerful mythic symbols. We all need a crash course in symbolism from Westerners
who are still sensitive to the symbolic and the mythical.
One such was Lewis Mumford, the late critic of technology. A few days after
the September 11 attacks, I bought an old copy of his The Myth of the Machine:
The Pentagon of Power at a used book sale. Mumford, writing in 1967,
assailed the symbolism of gigantism and indifference to the human scale that
he saw in a number of contemporary works of architecture. In particular, he
held three examples up as special recipients of his ire, and even included photographs.
One was some forgettable office building shaped like a spaceship, but the other
two were more familiar: the Pentagon and the World Trade Center twin towers.
I don’t think Osama bin Laden is a fan of Mumford’s, but both know their symbols.
And the rest of us had better start learning fast.
Karl D. Stephan
San Marcos, Texas
Anti–Semitism and Earplugs
Regarding Michael Linton’s review of my Passion (“Passion
Stomp,” December 2001): I will not dignify his anti–Semitic
comments (“Golijov diminishes Jewish culpability in Jesus’
death”) with an answer. For that you may refer to Pope John
XXIII. Nor will I respond to his Taliban–like comments (“By
having sopranos and altos sing Jesus’ words, Golijov makes
the Son of God weirdly androgynous”). I just want to correct
an untrue statement by Professor Linton: the Boston Symphony
players brought earplugs only to the first rehearsal. They
took them out for the remaining ones, as well as the performances.
Furthermore, contrary to Prof. Linton’s statement, I believe
that every one of the BSO players came to tell me how moved
they were and how much they loved playing this piece.
Michael Linton replies:
Mr. Golijov’s accusation of bigotry is
serious and deserves a serious answer.
Although now recognized as sophisticated
and subtle, the Gospel of Mark is unambiguous in at least one aspect. Jesus
stands in stark—and ironic—contrast to the temple priesthood. This theme is
introduced in Mark 1:22b and continues through the book, reaching its climax
in 14:63ff. where the high priest rends his robes and the whole Sanhedrin beats
Jesus, demanding his death. Within this large design, the violence of the crucifixion
and the temple priesthood’s highly active part in it are highlighted by smaller
touches characterized by ironic reversals: the loyal Peter cowardly denies Jesus,
and Joseph of Arimathea—the Sanhedrin member—bravely claims him; the Jewish
high priest pronounces Jesus blasphemous and worthy of death, while the Roman
centurion supervises the execution and proclaims Jesus the “Son of God.”
Most Christian scholars would agree that
the Gospels are midrashes upon the historic events of Jesus’ life, midrashes
that clarify Jesus’ position as promised Messiah and eschatological Lord. A
musical setting of a Gospel story is a midrash upon a midrash. Passion settings
such as Bach’s and Penderecki’s are sophisticated commentaries on and clarifications
of the Gospel stories, their positions in the Christian canon, and their roles
within the lives of continuing worshiping communities.
Instead of illuminating Mark’s story,
Golijov’s midrash distorts it. The Passion According to St. Mark disappears
under the Passion According to Golijov. My objection here is no more anti–Semitic
than was my objection to a similarly troublesome attitude to the text in the
Crystal Cathedral’s passion play (FT, June/July 1997). Whereas the text of that
1997 Garden Grove passion sought to dilute the theological notion of sin (and
edited it out of the Lord’s Prayer), Golijov diffuses the high irony of the
story by excising the single–minded meanness of the temple cabal. In one way
Mr. Golijov is exactly right. It is his passion. That’s one of its problems.
For Christians it’s Jesus’ Passion. Or
as it’s called in the liturgy, “The Passion of Our Lord according to St. Mark.”
Particularly for evangelical Protestants—but for many other Christians too—the
Scriptures are not something that we interpret and adjust, conforming the documents
with whatever passes for present realities or suits particular sensitivities,
either individual or cultural. We seek to conform our lives to the Scriptures,
not the Scriptures to our lives. And the Scriptures have that authority because
through them we know Jesus who is our Lord. Mr. Golijov can hardly be surprised
if people for whom this text—in all its details—is so important find his understanding
shallow and his editing problematic.
My guess is that Mr. Golijov views the
text as anti–Semitic and thus purged it of what he thought was objectionable
content. If he thinks so, he misreads it. The conflict in the text is between
Jews, not against Jews. My full passage which Mr. Golijov characterizes as anti–Semitic
is “Golijov diminishes Jewish culpability in Jesus’ death by editing out of
Mark’s text most passages that present Jewish officialdom in a less than benign
light.” It came in the context of addressing the apparent oddity of a Jew composing
a setting of the Passion—something that was widely noted in the press and about
which Mr. Golijov had commented. Perhaps I should have put “officialdom” earlier
in my sentence. But writing “ . . . diminishes Jewish officialdom’s culpability”
seemed unnecessarily lumpy, and blame for the miscarriage of justice described
in the text could hardly be placed against all the Jews or the Jews alone. The
women in the story—all Jewish—were not only powerless to stop the process but
apparently faithful supporters of Jesus throughout it. It was a Roman who pronounced
sentence and other Gentiles who did the dirty work. I thought all that was clear.
But of course it isn’t. Christians themselves
have misused the accounts, and in the wake of the Holocaust the almost visceral
reaction of some Jews to the New Testament stories is certainly understandable.
I regret that Mr. Golijov took my comments as he did. But Mr. Golijov should
both understand the importance of the unadorned Scriptures for evangelicals
and remember evangelicals’ historic philo–Semitism. Not only do we worship a
Jew as God, but evangelicals are sometimes even stronger supporters of Israel
than are some Israelis themselves. The anti–Semitic label is unwarranted.
Instead of name calling, I wish that
Mr. Golijov had taken the opportunity to explain matters such as his editing
decisions, why he chose to present Jesus as a symbol instead of a person, and
perhaps what he expected the reactions of Christians to be to his work.
On the comparatively trivial matter of
who wore earplugs when, I stand by my sources.
The Churches and the Civil War
McKenna’s review of While God Is Marching On: The Religious
World of Civil War Soldiers (December 2001),
he neglects to lay the least bit of blame for the Civil
War on the heightened sense of self–righteousness instilled
in both the North and the South by their respective churches.
My own researches into the war have led me to conclude that
the churches promoted secession vigorously, and that the
war’s origin, intensity, and duration could have been avoided
or reduced had the churches not added their infernal heat
to the flames. (For references concerning my assertion please
consult “The Civil War, Slavery, and the Bible,” located
at the following website: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/
Edward T. Babinski
Greenville, South Carolina
George McKenna replies:
Churches—infernal heat? Mr. Babinski
seem to have an ax to grind. I can only pray that it does not corrupt his research.
In any case, it is hard to see how the churches could have been expected to
remain silent about the issue that produced the war. In his 1858 debates with
Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln called slavery the most serious moral issue
of his time. Douglas, in trying to declare it off–limits for political debate,
called it a “religious” issue. They were both right. Whenever moral and religious
issues are debated, churches must get involved. It goes with the territory.
Abortion and the Rule of Law
The item on abortion and reproductive health care in While
We’re At It (December 2001) is factually incorrect and
misrepresents the position of the Center for Reproductive
Law and Policy (CRLP).
The piece, quoting Brigham Young law
professor Richard Wilkins, maligns CRLP by charging that “the strategy demonstrates
‘CRLP’s contempt for the American political system.’” As a legal organization,
CRLP’s mission is to establish and protect the rule of law by advancing women’s
reproductive rights in the U.S. and around the world, whether at the UN, with
governments, or in the courts.
More troubling is the rest of the quote
by Prof. Wilkins. His statement is riddled with errors. Asserting that CRLP’s
“contempt” extends to “a disregard for more general notions of national sovereignty
and democratic self–determination” is just plain wrong. Groups across the political
spectrum are working to create customary international law through the UN’s
processes. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized since the early nineteenth
century that customary international law is a legitimate part of American law.
Moreover, it is generally accepted that Congress can set aside customary international
law by statute and thereby make it unenforceable in U.S. courts—thus, there
is a powerful democratic “check” on the UN process. But Congress has never enacted
such a law.
Far from imposing one viewpoint on abortion,
or “bypassing political accountabililty,” all UN documents recognize that abortion
is included in the definition of reproductive health, but only to the extent
that it is legal in individual nations. In contrast, the “Mexico City policy,”
which the piece explains as “forbid[ding] the use of U.S. funds for overseas
groups that promote or perform abortions,” in fact prohibits the use of these
groups’ own funds, and imposes the viewpoint of a minority of the population
of the U.S. on other sovereign nations, regardless of their own established
laws on the issue.
These contortions distort the way the
UN addresses reproductive health services and the efforts of the reproductive
rights community, and have resulted in a column that is a disservice to the
readers of First Things.
President, Center for Reproductive Law and Policy
New York, New York
Richard Wilkins replies:
Ms. Benshoof asserts that my comments
in the December 2001 issue of First Things are “riddled with errors.” Ms. Benshoof
should be quite careful before making such a claim.
Anika Rahman, Director of the International Program for CRLP, claimed, in a
letter to the Washington Times (August 31, 2001), that “our lawsuit does
not assert that the right to abortion is a principle of international customary
law.” In her letter, Ms. Benshoof admits what her colleague denied. See paragraph
89 of the Center’s lawsuit, which alleges that “CRLP advocates” for “interpretations
of existing treaties and other international human rights agreements that favor
protection of reproductive rights, including abortion, as internationally recognized
human rights.” It takes exceptional legal training, to say the least, to explain
any distinction between a “customary international law” and an “internationally
recognized human right.”
Ms. Benshoof claims that the CRLP’s attempts
to enforce “customary international law” are consistent with the American legal
system and that, in any event, UN–created norms respect the abortion policy
of individual states. These claims warrant a three–point reply.
First, as Ms. Benshoof notes, the Supreme Court has decreed that customary
international law is enforceable in U.S. Courts. That is precisely why abortion
advocates, like the CRLP, are moving into the international law arena to set
aside political and legal decisions (like the Mexico City policy) adopted within
the United States. Viewed in this context, Ms. Benshoof’s invocation of international
law indeed shows contempt for the American legal process. Otherwise, why file
a lawsuit (invoking purported international law) to set aside a presidential
Second, Ms. Benshoof’s assertion that
Congress can “set aside” a principle of customary international law is creative
but merely hypothetical, and certainly questionable at best—as Ms. Benshoof
concedes, this has never actually happened. The real issue, of course, is why
Congress should have to “reverse” or “set aside” a principle of law that Congress
or the United States Constitution did not create in the first place. That is
precisely how the use of international law by Ms. Benshoof and her associates
shows such contempt for democracy and sovereignty.
Third, abortion advocates, without any
doubt, are attempting to further their agenda by using international meetings
that have little if any political oversight by, or democratic accountability
to, the electorates of the nations attending those meetings. Such meetings are
used, or misused, by the abortion lobbyists to create new “norms” of customary
international law—norms that would never be adopted through the democratic processes
of most of the attending countries.
Nations such as those in South America
whose constitutions specifically protect unborn children are urged at international
meetings to endorse broad language calling for “reproductive rights.” Of course,
during the course of the international meetings, abortion activists deny that
“reproductive rights” language includes abortion. (But see the Canadian admission
to the contrary—the event that prompted the item in question.) Then, once the
“reproductive rights” language is adopted, CRLP and others take that language
back to the legal systems of the participating nations and claim (as the CRLP
did in its own lawsuit) that such “agreements . . . favor protection of reproductive
rights, including abortion, as internationally recognized human rights.” This
is precisely why abortion advocates expend such vast efforts at international
meetings pushing for abortion policies that do in fact seek to subvert the democratic
process by foisting an a priori abortion agenda on nations around the world.
The incredible irony is that all of the
above takes place, according to Ms. Benshoof, in the name of seeking “to establish
and protect the rule of law.”
By filing a lawsuit to set aside the
Mexico City policy on the basis of “international law” created outside the American
political system, the CRLP has demonstrated that it firmly believes that “international
law” (which has little if anything to do with the will of the American people
or the representatives they elect to govern them) is nevertheless enforceable
against the American people and, ultimately, the people of the world. Groups
and individuals who indeed wish to “protect the rule of law” should take notice.