Dr. Charles Camosy is a professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University in the Bronx and author of the new book “Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation.” He will be the featured speaker at the first Diocese of Camden Life & Justice Lecture (Monday, May 11, 7 p.m., Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, Mullica Hill, free admission), where he will discuss the Catholic vision of justice that extends protection to all human beings, from the moment of conception until natural death, including every moment in between.
A fabulous teacher, Dr. Camosy makes complex theological concepts accessible to all, and he has contributed essays to USA Today, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and other publications.
He took the time to answer a few questions for the Catholic Star Herald. Learn more about the lecture and register to attend at www.camdendiocese.org/encounter.
Q: In a Wall Street Journal editorial written just after the 2013 verdict against abortion-provider Kermit Gosnell, Dan Henninger wrote, “No other public policy has divided the people of the United States for so long and so deeply. Abortion is America’s second civil war.” Why do you think this is true?
A: It radically divides everything from our families, to our parishes, to our political process. It goes to the heart of two very fundamental values in our culture: 1) the equal standing of women in our culture and, 2) the protecting of vulnerable prenatal children from death. When the stakes are understood to be so high, one can see why the debate turns out this way.
Q: Some critics say that pro-life advocates don’t do enough to support mothers, fathers and children after birth. What can Catholics do to respond to those who say that pro-lifers are only “pro-birth” and not really pro-life?
A: The first response is that such critics are correct. We don’t do enough. Many people do great things, but we absolutely don’t do enough. Every parish with a pro-life ministry, for instance, should also have a ministry to pregnant women and single mothers in difficult circumstances. That same organization should be putting hard core pressure on local politicians to increase social supports for women. Jesus commands Christians not only to be nonviolent, but to actively support those most vulnerable and least among us.
Q: In your just-released book, you discuss statistics that surprise some people: In many surveys, women are more likely than men to support abortion restrictions. Why do you think that is?
A: It is complex, but part of the reason is that women understand better than men that abortion does not lead to women’s social equality. In fact, paradoxically, it could lead to more inequality. One reason why our culture doesn’t give women mandatory paid maternity leave and other supports for having children is, frankly, because we believe they could have had an abortion. Our patriarchal culture insists that equality for women means that they basically have to remain non-pregnant; that is, they have to be like men. Pro-lifers know that true social equality for women means — not abortion — but giving women the resources necessary to choose to not kill their child.
Q: Often in the church, one can find painful divides between “pro-life Catholics” and “social justice Catholics.” You suggest a both/and approach. What are some signs of hope for you that progress toward the both/and can be made?
A: Fifty percent of Millennials refuse to identify as either Republican or Democrat. They support “liberal” causes like health care reform and paid maternity leave, but they also support “conservative” pro-life position in favor of protecting prenatal children. This is true also of Hispanics. Both demographics are the future of this country, and this future looks to be a very different and more hopeful one.
Mike Jordan Laskey is director, Life & Justice Ministries, Diocese of Camden.