Catholics for Choice (CFC) bought a two-page ad in The Express, a publication of The Washington Post, painting the Catholic Church as a bigoted and discriminatory religious organization. Imitating the famous U.S. Army recruitment poster featuring Uncle Sam, CFC uses a Bishop who points saying, “We Want You to Help Us Discriminate.” The ad stated, “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led an annual Fortnight for Freedom campaign for years to do just that: discriminate.” CFC stated the Catholic Church is hiding behind religious liberty to discriminate against people, specifically when it comes to birth control, adoption, and abortion.
Make no mistake: Bishops' Fortnight for Freedom is a campaign to discriminate pic.twitter.com/W0HwbRo8MH
— Catholics for Choice (@Catholic4Choice) June 21, 2017
Jon O’Brien is the current president of CFC, who replaced Francis Kissling in 2008. Prior to becoming president he worked with the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s European Bureau in London. He was born and raised Catholic in Ireland and started his work at the Irish Family Planning Association, whose work successfully led to the end of Ireland’s constricting contraceptive laws. Thus, O’Brien’s work with reproductive rights has heavily influenced laws and policy in many countries. According to his CFC bio, he stands against the Catholic hierarchy and speaks for “millions of Catholics around the U.S and aboard” on reproductive rights.
In a special “Message from the President” on CFC’s website, O’Brien gives a long statement on various stances of Catholics for Choice that fundamentally conflict with traditional values of the Roman Catholic Church. For example O’Brien wrote:
And above all else: we know that our faith both calls us to follow our conscience and demands that we serve those who are the least among us. Controlling which services they will be able to access-whether that is condoms and contraception or abortion-goes against both those traditions.
O’Brien wrote, “We can’t have freedom of religion without guaranteeing freedom from religion.” He concludes the message with a pledge to stand in solidarity with social justice demands before “real religious freedom is destroyed in our country.”
Separately in a video, promoted by CFC in its print ad, the organization explained their version of religious liberty and the separation between church and state as “enshrined in our Constitution.”
Yet, O’Brien seems oblivious to the fact that the separation between church and state is not actually “enshrined” in the American Constitution. The First Amendment states, regarding religion, the free exercise clause (freedom to exercise one’s religious beliefs) and the establishment clause (Congress cannot establish one true religion). Ultimately the First Amendment allows Christians to exercise their religious beliefs in the public square. Thus, O’Brien’s statement contradicts religious liberty by hindering religious groups, specifically Catholics, from exercising their beliefs on abortion.
Catholics for Choice promotes “choice for women” and believes that the Catholic Church has been too invested on women’s issues, particularly with abortion. O’Brien has been extremely outspoken on this issue arguing that the church should preserve individual conscience. He cites the Catechism stating, “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.” However, O’Brien does not believe a religious conscientious objection to abortion is valid.
This organization’s doctrines are far from the Roman Catholic values on the sanctity of life. The Catholic Church has always been fierce defenders of the unborn throughout history continuing to today. Pope John Paul II stated, “By the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors . . . I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being.”
Therefore, Catholics for Choice does not align with traditional Catholic doctrine nor represent Catholics. They identify as a Catholic organization, however their disregard for the Church’s doctrines seems to cast doubt on whether they are truly Catholic.Google+