Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mainstreaming pastoral care and abortion providers

In a disturbing conversation recently with a seminarian friend of mine, he revealed to me his perception of the pro-life movement: we are narrow-minded. While I'm not surprised to hear that, I was surprised to hear it from a seminarian. In his opinion, activists of every movement are over-zealous about their cause to the detriment of the over-all good of any situation. He cannot find a good reason why his seminarian studies and pastoral preparations should include the life issues. "We don't all need a PhD in pro-life work," were his words.

He blamed me for having a narrow focus on the Gospel and the Church because of my passion of pro-life work, but the reality is that the most hotly disputed issues in the Church are her teachings on marriage, human sexuality, abortion, euthanasia and the rest of the life issues. These are also the places where the greatest pastoral need lies. One recent example is a fervent parish youth group where two of the members recently proclaimed that they are gay, and the pastor was unable to give any practical direction to the youths about programs available for sexually disturbed teens that convey the Church's teachings. The youth of the group are now confused and hurt.

It has been 75 years since the landmark encyclical letter of the Catholic Church, Castii Connubii where Pope Pius XI warned sternly of the need for the "pastors of souls" to be prepared for attacks against human life, sexuality and marriage. Even with this, seminarians and priests have found it very difficult to "mainstream" these issues into their pastoral care.

On the other hand, the medical community is continuing to mainstream abortion into private medical practice. One key example of this is the influential presence of Medical Students for Choice on the campuses of many medical schools. Students are empowered to become tomorrows abortion providers. Even more ironic, there are even several abortion clinics that provide "clergy" counseling on-site.

So, as our future seminarians are skirting the life issues, the medical community is spreading their influence so much that abortion clinics are closing by the dozens as the procedure is mainstreamed into private practice. With this disturbing fact, why are our seminarians reluctant to at least know of the resources available in their area?

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