“We cannot hate these human enemies,” Bishop Finn stated, telling his audience that “we must find a way to love them. But we need not show them any sign of agreement. We pray for them,” Bishop Finn commented. “To ignore their destructive errors, particularly those that cost the lives of others, is to shirk our responsibility to attend to their eternal salvation.”
Those who openly attack belief in Christ or the Church’s right to exist are in some ways not the most dangerous opponents, Bishop Finn said, because “they show themselves and their intentions more forthrightly.”
More dangerous are people from all backgrounds, including Catholics, who “in this age of pluralism and political propriety seek ways to convince us of their sincerity and good will.
“With malice or with ignorance, or perhaps with an intention of advancing some other personal goal, they are willing to undermine and push aside the values and the institutions that stand in their way. They may propose ‘tolerance’ and seem to have a ‘live and let live’ approach to all human choices – even if the choice is not to ‘let live,’ but actually to ‘let die,’ or ‘let life be destroyed.’”
“This dissension in our own ranks should not surprise us because we all experience some dissension against God’s law of love within our own heart,” the bishop told the convention, saying those believers who attack the “most fundamental tenets” of the Church are some of the most “discouraging, confusing and dangerous” opponents.
Turning to the issue of the University of Notre Dame’s invitation of President Barack Obama, he said “It doesn’t take another Bishop’s Conference statement to know this is wrong: scandalous, discouraging and confusing to many Catholics.”
Predicting that Notre Dame President Fr. John I. Jenkins will “probably lose his job” as “a scapegoat for this debacle,” Bishop Finn suggested: “at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong.” He said Fr. Jenkins should disinvite the president and give the honorary degree to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
He then spoke about the “battle for human life,” especially on abortion.
“The constant magnitude of this crime against humanity is staggering. We must never get used to it,” Bishop Finn said. “In the United States there are 4,000 abortions every day.”
“If we keep saying this – first of all – some people will get very upset with us. They will want us to stop. They may quote other statistics about the tragedies of poverty and war. We must truly share their horror at these things too. However, in the end the measure of our society is in how we treat the most vulnerable in our midst.”
The bishop said that Catholics are “absolutely” in a war over abortion and said people should not consider this “someone else’s war.”
(Story continues below)
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Turning to human embryo research, he said Missouri had lost “a valiant battle” to outlaw human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research.
“We haven’t given up, but it requires a constant effort. We won many people over through good instruction in the truth.”
Noting the legalization of assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington State, Bishop Finn lamented the “steady decline” in the number of people opposed to assisted suicide.
“Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that people are losing their sense of the moral evil of assisted suicide. But we cannot give up,” he told the convention audience.
Warning that Catholics public officials who support the legal right to abortion “have abandoned their place in the citizenship of the Church,” the bishop said they have become “warriors for death rather than life.”
They endanger their eternal salvation, he warned.