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Mercy and Reason

“Judie Brown is a zealot.” “American Life League sits self-righteously in judgment of our Catholic shepherds.” When Judie Brown was scheduled to speak at a Pro-Life Wisconsin event in the mid-2000s that also featured Cardinal Timothy Dolan as a speaker, the cardinal stated, “I will not appear on the same stage with that woman.” I’ve also read comments from cardinals telling Judie Brown, “We do not like your tactics; we do not like your tone.”

The list goes on and on.

She’s been yelled at in face-to-face meetings with cardinals. They have tracked her down on her cell phone to “read her the riot act” over statements she’s made. One current American bishop even argued that “there is such a thing as a ‘safe’ abortion.”

At the heart of their venom toward Judie Brown is her insistence that our priests, bishops, and cardinals defend Christ in the Eucharist. Judie brought canon 915 to the forefront many years ago. The canon simply states that those persisting in grave manifest evil shall not be permitted to receive Christ in the Eucharist. The Eucharist should be denied to those who openly and proudly support, endorse, enshrine, and vouchsafe abortion while also defiantly proclaiming they are Catholic.

If a public figure’s bloodlust in his support of abortion is not “persisting in grave manifest evil,” then what exactly is?

There is no need for me to reiterate the numerous statements from Rome regarding this matter. Public support of abortion is material support for the slaughter of children. The Church’s teachings are clear, yet there is boundless confusion.

The history of our Catholic faith is defined by the sacrifices of ordinary men, women, and children who lived their lives for their families, for others, and for their faith. Never in a single moment of those beautiful lives would they have entertained the thought of supporting abortion or the culture of death in any way. It’s antithetical to Christ. It’s just that simple. Yet here we are.

The confusion and the hubris of some of our bishops and cardinals is stifling. Their cowardice to stand firmly and publicly in defense of Christ in the Eucharist is a result of their pride. The proud man fears he has something to lose, while the humble man fears the Lord and recognizes Our Lord in the Eucharist. The proud man does not want to be labeled, for he fears criticism, rebuke, and loss of human respect. Perhaps he fears the news media or the attacks of the faux-Catholics who seek the destruction of the faithful man whenever he appears. The humble man recognizes our Lord and Savior in the form of bread and wine and is willing to lay his life down in defense of Him. The attacks and the criticisms he receives mean nothing, for Our Lord suffered far worse.

Mercy is not mercy if it is not practiced in truth. In the Old Testament, David was a pro-choice politician. He chose to allow the death of Uriah the Hittite so he might marry his wife. How did the Lord deal with David? The Lord did not take “the pastoral” approach with David. Neither did the Lord sit and discuss the matter with David over coffee. The Lord did not seek common discernment among others. Nor did He espouse proportionate reasoning. He crushed David. A man whom the Lord loved was spiritually and emotionally ground into the dirt to not only get David’s attention, but to bring him fully into consciousness and awareness regarding his actions and to allow true remorse and penance for his intrinsically grave immoral act. David’s very soul was at stake and the Lord cared not about his feelings but about his true conversion. From David’s low place he wrote many Psalms seeking the forgiveness and mercy of the Lord—a forgiveness he eventually received. The Lord gives our shepherds a model for dealing with those supposedly in the fold who practice and support grave manifest evil.

In the New Testament, we once again see an example of how God dealt with someone who supported grave manifest evil. Saul endorsed the persecution and murder of the innocent. Though he never lifted a sword in the taking of an innocent life, he allowed it, encouraged it, and protected it. Christ Himself struck down Saul. He knocked him from his horse, covered his eyes in scales, and left him alone and suffering in complete darkness for three days and nights. Through God’s intervention, Saul was humbled. He converted and became Saint Paul. Christ did not fear confrontation. Christ did not fear rebuking His own. Christ did not seek long-winded diatribes that serve to merely usurp oxygen while really saying nothing. His striking down of Saul gave Saul the opportunity to receive real mercy—the mercy of forgiveness and conversion brought about by striking down hubris and pride with intent and purpose. That is the definition of real love, and that love is what we must show our fellow human beings.

As we enter Our Lord’s passion this evening, pray. Pray fervently for those shepherds who fear the Lord and who have no fear of the world. Pray for courage, and be not afraid, for fear is a weapon of the evil one. The world needs faithful Catholics of courage now more than ever. If you are rebuked, labeled, or criticized, rejoice, for we share in some small way in Our Lord’s passion, and we know that He expects us to willingly lay our lives down for the truth.

Fear nothing, love unconditionally, and live a life in strength, unapologetically espousing a culture of life.

Hugh R. Brown III is Judie Brown’s son. Hugh is the father of five, president of AKA Printing and Mailing, one of the founders of St. Michael the Archangel High School, and a member of the board of directors of American Life League.