Kmiec responded in a letter made public that “the Archbishop’s approach to the abortion issue ‘will lead many in parishes around the country to neglect what they can do to build up the culture of life through the promotion of the social gospel in its fullest sense’” (emphasis added).
The key to Professor Kmiec’s view is seen in the emphasized words above, the social gospel. One can see his point. He is saying that the culture of life is broader than abortion, which is very true, and is very obvious. What he fails to see is that the killing of the unborn human person is the most serious and barbaric aspect of the decline of the culture of life. The term “social gospel” is generally never used by the Church. The reason for this is that traditionally the expression was used by those who saw Christ as a kind of divine social worker, and the only really purpose of the Church was to help the poor and downtrodden. This is a total twisting of the mission of the Catholic Church, unfortunately bought into by many Catholics today, thanks to the number of priests who received their training in the 1960s and ’70s.
The primary mission of the Catholic Church is to produce sanctity in people so that they can be admitted into the indescribable loving relationship with God that we call the beatific vision. St. James tells us that faith without works is dead, so Catholics show their love of God by showing love of their brothers and sisters in Christ. As Mother Teresa said, “Christ comes to us in distressing disguises.” God told St. Catherine of Siena that He owns the whole world, so that the faithful can not give Him anything, but our neighbor was given to us so that we could do for him what we would want to do for God. This is why Jesus said that what you do for the least of His brethren, you did for Him.
But while these two things, love of God and neighbor, go hand in hand, a clear moral and common sense principle is that the most serious problems have priority. The legal and systematic killing of innocent unborn children has a higher priority than that of taking care of the poor, which in the United States are not that poor compared to many parts of the world, seeing that the number of people living below the poverty line had drastically declined over the past two years, and government and private charities provide assistance to almost anyone who needs it. This is not to mention that over 90% of Americans have televisions, once considered a luxury item.
Anyway, who says that the government actually helps the poor in a meaningful way? Jesus did not say that anyone who gets the government to help one of these little ones does it to Me. He clearly said it is our personal responsibility. Pope Pius XII bemoaned the fact that the modern welfare state does not give personal aid to the poor as a private charity would. The government has “caseworkers” who take no personal interest in the people whose records they review. Private charities have trained social workers, who not only take a personal interest in the people they assist, but help them in other areas: moral, budgeting, psychological, etc., very much in the tradition of St. Vincent de Paul.
I have written elsewhere that this thinking that the government is the main vehicle to help the poor has derailed many Catholics into the party of abortion, and that this should create a moral dilemma for them, but apparently not in the case of Professor Kmiec.
While it is true that we all must work to produce a culture of life in every area, to neglect, or encourage the killing of the unborn is a grave evil. It is almost like saying that we should vote for Mussolini so that the trains can run on time. It is important that the trains run time, but hardly as important as basic human freedom. So, to come full circle, it is important to help the poor, but not to encourage the death of the innocent in the process.