My kids just finished reading "Julius Caesar".
I was particularly fascinated by Brutus and his conscience this year, perhaps because he seems so relevant to our present political discussions. Though he tries to be noble, Brutus's conscience and his sense of logic both fail him when he chooses to commit objective evil in order to promote what he believes to be the "greater good".
It was "not that I loved Caesar less," he claims. "But that I loved Rome more."
Loved Rome. Patriotism so great that it overcame his basic sense of right and wrong. And the wages of his sin, as one might expect in a Shakespearean tragedy, is death. Lots of it.
At Notre Dame, President Obama presented us with a great deal of talk about unity and common ground. Overcoming differences. Appealing to our ideals as Catholics, he tried to convince us that he is willing to work together to reduce abortion, AIDS, poverty. "Why can't we all just get along?" he seemed to ask plaintively.
I will tell you why, Mr. President. When Brutus betrayed his friend by murdering him in the name of patriotism, he unleashed chaos. "Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement" do not come when we shuffle off moral authority. The death of Caesar did not mean the beginning of a new republic. Instead, it brought civil war and the tyranny of the mob.
We are happy to work with you, Mr. President, to change our country for the better. If you want to fund adult stem cell research, adoption programs, homes for unwed mothers, and pre-natal care for pregnant women in crisis we are with you. If you want to make it easeir for citizens to take care of each other through local (even faith-based) organizations, you have our full support.
But as long as the FDA thwarts ethical adult stem cell research on your watch, your words are empty. While you support the abortion industry without holding it accountable for its bad behavior, your logic holds no water. As long as you continue to ignore the sanctity of marriage, the value of abstinence, and the consciences of health care workers, we cannot trust your policies. When you send our money overseas to fund abortions over our objections, and your Homeland Security officcials brand us as extremists and terrorists, we cannot take your words seriously, however "fair minded" they may be.
Your diplomatic rhetoric does not match your actions, sir, though surely you are an honorable man.
The other conspirators asked Brutus to set aside his qualms and murder Caesar with them.
You, Mr. President, are asking us to do worse. You are asking us to set aside our qualms, not to eliminate a potential tyrant (though some of your friends might think a child in the womb is such.) You are asking us to set aside our moral convictions and allow the murder of children in the womb and spiritual harm to those outside of it.
You are presenting us with a false choice between our consciences and the "greater good". You may not literally be placing the dagger in our hands, but you are asking us to become accessories to the actions of those who have it.
When it comes to the sanctity of human life, and the true dignity of marriage and women, our answer to you and any other president is the same: Consequentialism is not compatible with Christianity.
We love our country too much to destroy its soul.
We will not be made conspirators, Mr. President.
Tips of the Schoolmarm Ruler to: Real Choice, Ad Altare Dei, The American Catholic, William Shakespeare