Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Lori Thorat wrote a letter to the editor in the Plain Dealer stating, “I can’t stop thinking about the infuriating logic behind the idea that a pregnancy resulting from a rape is God’s will as espoused by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.”  In a horribly misguided statement recently Mourdock is reported to have said, “. . . I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."  Taken by many, including Thorat, that he means that God wills for children to be conceived by rape, this statement is not one that even the most ardent prolife person can stand by.  It is certainly not the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Does God will the conception of a child from rape?  Clearly not.  That is not the plan.  Even a rudimentary understanding of Scripture would reveal that this is not the way God intended for human beings to live and procreate.  “For this reason a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife . . . they are no longer two but one flesh.”  That is the plan that God wills.
But there is still the difficult question of the person that was conceived under horrific conditions, the effects of which will not be completely erased even if that person is removed from the situation by abortion.  The question might be phrased this way, “Would God will that another innocent person be harmed in order to help mitigate the horrendous damage done to another human being by such an evil abuse of God’s gift of sex?”  I believe that is the question that Mourdock really wished to address (and indeed tried to clarify later but it was too late.)  And an answer must go further than a simple “yes” or “no” but must also deal with the further consequences of the “yes” or “no” answer.  Either is a theological answer (including whether a conceived person has any rights and can be afforded the social justice teachings of the Church) and requires a response.


Pat said...

A difficulty we have is that our pro-life politicians are placed in a very difficult situation: being expected to clearly articulate every fine point of the pro-life cause, in 30 second sound bites before a hostile press.

Politicians usually explain very well their positions on matters such as taxes, defense etc.

But now that "human life," "marriage" and other issues have been politicized, they are expected to be pastors as well.

Baron Korf said...

This is the difference between active and permissive will. The rape occurred through His permissive will, as all evil is. However, the formation of new life is not evil, and so I do not think it wrong-headed at all to say that God intended a child to be born.

I have read several stories of women who found healing through their child after a rape. It is not a stretch to say that God willed for their to be a child in order to redeem the offense and potentially bring greater good into the world in defiance of the evil surrounding the conception.

MaryofSharon said...

Not sure why my earlier comment on this post was blocked (I think). I sure hope I didn't say anything inappropriate! Perhaps it's not kosher to add links to comments? (That's hard not for me to do do since I'm always coming across so many good resources.) Fr. V., clarification on what to post and not to post would be appreciated.

Anyway, what I was trying to say was that it is really unfortunate that Rep. Mourdock fumbled in the clarity of his comments, for his willingness to stand up for the the unborn conceived in rape was heroic and exceedingly rare. Of course these babies' lives are as worthy of protection as that of any other innocent person. If there is even one life that is not deserving of protection, then we have started down a frightening slippery slope where the line between those worthy of protection and those whose lives are expendable gets pushed further and further down so as to allow for the killing of the "undesirable" already-born (think utilitarian Princeton ethicist Peter Singer).

There is a compelling YouTube video called "Survivors of Rape Victims Support Mourdock" that features five women who were conceived in rape. (I won't add the link, but it's easy to search for.) I don't see how a rationale person can watch this and then argue that these women should have been killed, even though it must have been extremely difficult for their saintly mothers. Talk about heroic character!

I wish Mr. Mourdock could have said something like this: Rape is evil, but that doesn't mean that the lives of those conceived in rape are not good and worthy of our protection. They don't deserve a death sentence for the horrendous crime of their father. They are still persons created in the image and likeness of God and still loved by Him as much as anyone else. Good can, and often does, come from evil. God is really good with stuff like that. In fact the greatest good of all time (our salvation) came from the greatest evil of all time (the torturous killing of God incarnate by his creatures).

Fr. V said...

It came through in my Email. I don't know what happened to it!

MaryofSharon said...

Phew! Glad I didn't do anything wrong!

Anonymous said...

I have never thought of the conception through rape in those terms-that would "God will that another" who is clearly innocent be destroyed in order to help mitigate the horror of rape.

I wish we actually had a political party that was "prolife." Anyone who passes legislation that harms the poor or believes in capital punishment may not consider themselves prolife. Why can't a politician protect the rights of all?

I almost left the church this year. The pro republican stance was reprehensible to me. Few politicians frighten me as much as Paul Ryan.

But whatever you believe, why is it permissable for the church to preach politics? And believe me, it has this election year.

Both parties seem to me very contrary to Catholic teachings.

Fr. V said...

Gads! Do I agree with you. It is my dream that one day we will have someone run for office that I would actually want to put his bumper sticker on my car. As it is, I feel completely unrepresented by any particualar political party.

That being said, The most basic right is the basic right to life. If that is violated, we can hardly think to attack the other issues. It is much more difficult to say this person deserves food but you can destroy this person. Rather, this person deserves they life that has been given them and then it incumbant upon us to nourish that life because all life has value - not just those we choose to give value to.