This speech by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has attracted some notice for his reference to abortion as “little murders”. But I found something else worth noting in it:
We need to be very forceful in defending what the words in our political vocabulary really mean. Words are important because they shape our thinking, and our thinking drives our actions. When we subvert the meaning of words like ”the common good” or ”conscience” or ”community” or ”family,” we undermine the language that sustains our thinking about the law. Dishonest language leads to dishonest debate and bad laws.
Here’s an example. We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue, and it’s never an end in itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square – peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.
I am not religious (I am a reasonably sour lapsed Catholic). But I’m not against religion, and certainly not against our right as citizens to use our moral compass in public discourse or debate. Most of all, I am in favour of using clear language, especially when discussing important issues. I’m with the Archbishop when he says anything less is a form of theft.
People often ask what they, by themselves, can do to help lower the number of abortions. Well, one way would be to insist, gently but firmly, on using clear language when discussing the issue. “Everybody is in favour of choice. We all have the right and power to choose – in the case of abortion, we can choose life for the developing human being or we can choose death for same. Which one, exactly, are you in favour of? Answer that, then we can discuss women’s reproductive health if you want…”
Tanya supports: The Archbishop’s take on the word “tolerance.” Tolerance is not the same as embracing diversity (that good ‘ole Christian virtue of loving everyone). Tolerance under the umbrella of political correctness is a way of numbing over anyone who might feel passionately about a particular subject, especially with their moral/ethical compass.
And this is where the phrase, “I’d never be able to have an abortion, but I support a woman’s right to choose” stems from.