How others view the Gosnell trial

First I will say how (I hope) you and I look at the Kermit Gosnell trial, and then I will describe how others view it. These others include, on a reasonable reckoning, most of the main-stream media, the Obama administration, most law professors now, perhaps several members of the Supreme Court, and also about 95 percent of college professors.

It is highly important for you to grasp the strange way that these other persons view something that should be as plain as the Gosnell trial, because you need to be clear about, for instance, whether you really want to spend large sums of money to have your children educated by people who think in this way, or whether you really want the culture of our country to move irrevocably in that direction.

Gosnell did late abortions in Philadelphia, making money hand over fist doing so, in a backroom clinic that was dirty and in disarray. According to the Grand Jury report, many aborted babies were born alive, which he killed mostly by snipping their spinal columns in the back of the neck with scissors. He harmed mothers as well by rushing through abortions and not treating complications. After a lengthy trial filled with sensationalistic details of the sort that the media would usually lap up -- but in this case ignored -- he was found guilty last week of murder and manslaughter.

You (I hope) and I view Gosnell as something like a vivid representation of all abortion in general, this generation's "Silent Scream." Obviously, it makes no difference whether you snip the baby's spinal column after it is born, or whether, when it is still in the womb, you pull out its limbs piece-by-piece (as in a "D and E" abortion) so that is never born. The baby's transition from being in the womb to being outside cannot magically convert a permissible attack into an objectionable attack. And whatever makes it wrong to attack that just-to-be-born baby makes it wrong to kill any unborn baby younger than it.

Obviously too, in killing the born babies, Gosnell was hardly acting with any special criminal mind but supposing, rightly, that that is what everyone wanted. It may be too much to say that every woman who seeks an abortion wants a dead baby, but she certainly does not want to be presented with a live baby at the end of her abortion clinic visit.

It's not unexpected that Gosnell's clinic was dirty and badly managed. Why should a doctor who has so disastrously rejected the "above all do no harm" of the Hippocratic Oath suddenly become fastidious about much lesser harms? He might indeed, but it would be no surprise if he did not. Vice typically brings along with it ugliness, carelessness, and filth.

Gosnell's adult victims were desperate, but desperation is the main motive of abortion -- because the father has abandoned the mother, or what was meant to be casual sex now threatens to imply a life-long and life-sacrificing commitment.

So Gosnell does represent all abortion. He makes plain the nature of abortion in general. And a sensible person will think: in doing so he discredits the "right" and the "cause." It is near blasphemy to say that a claim of right covers the sort of thing that Gosnell did. Anyone who fails to set himself against this sort of thing lacks moral credibility. Even, we seem to be insensible if, although not directly responsible for it, you and I do not repent and do atonement.

But those others see Gosnell in a very different way. First, they are still wondering whether the babies with the snipped spinal columns really were alive: for instance, a major newspaper has continued to report, even after the convictions, merely that prosecutors "had alleged" that Gosnell had killed living babies -- whereas his own attorneys always denied that this was so. (Yes, skepticism and carelessness as to whether the unborn are alive can go even that far.)

Then, they say, the problem with Gosnell was the unprofessionalism of his clinic, not what he did. Obviously a competent abortionist would have made sure that no babies came out alive! It was not what Gosnell did, but the way that he did it -- the bad technique, the poor appearance, the apparent inconsistencies created -- which was so unfortunate.

Actually, these people hold, the anti-abortion movement is mainly responsible for Gosnell, because anti-abortionists have created such a strong stigma against abortion that responsible abortion providers are increasingly rare.

If some women sought abortions after the fetus was viable, then there must have been a good reason for that, and it is not our role to second guess. As for the sensationalistic details of blood and tissue -- all surgery produces that, and we must not allow squeamishness to interfere with the practice of a solemn constitutional right. Necessity often compels us to do distasteful things.

Now, about a quarter of Americans would view the Gosnell trial as I do (and I hope you also). About a quarter, which is influential, think as these others do and resist with absolute tenacity any change in the "right" to abortion, for any reason, through all nine months of pregnancy. But the former group supposedly are the "extremist fanatics" -- a charge which could not be believed if the Gosnell trial became central to public consciousness.

Michael Pakaluk is Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University and the author of "The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God" (Ignatius).

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...