Sister Joan Chittister Stirs Up A Hornet’s Nest: Are Pro-Life People Really Hypocrites?


To see the headlines that say “Catholic Nun STUNS Republicans on Abortion,” one would think that the “nun” talking, Sister Joan Chittister, actually has any sort of moral authority when it comes to Catholic teaching on abortion.  From a Catholic perspective, she doesn’t, and she left the reservation a LONG time ago.

However, given that the leftist wing of the American media will latch onto any dissident Catholic who happens to spout something that resembles their position on an issue, the Sister Joans of the world are used to an advantage.  Such is what happened among leftists who are celebrating this quote from Chittister as demonstrating the “hypocrisy” of the American right and conservatives when it comes to being pro-life:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Interestingly enough, as bad as some of Chittister’s theology is and that she writes for a paper not so affectionately nicknamed the “National Catholic Distorter,” she has a point about how far people who call themselves “pro-life” take the argument.  For the most part, the people who call themselves “pro-life” also don’t believe in welfare or socialism.  But, do we really condone the idea of children born, but not fed or educated?  Of course not.  But the people on the political right don’t discuss that aspect of pro-life, and that is a problem.

What Chittister and her ilk within Catholicism miss is that the real world is not like a religious order, or the social system described in the Acts of the Apostles.  That system, which is true socialism, only works if it is voluntary.  It that sense, the village would raise children.  If that is the issue, raising children, the wait lists for adoption in this country are ridiculously long.  There are many families in the United States more than willing to give children a home, and a good life.  Yet, that never surfaces in the left’s condemnation of the pro-life position.  All that is ever discussed is the morality of killing children in the womb, an act those with humanist leanings justify with the argument that if the child is going to go hungry or not be educated, it is better for him or her not to be born.

It is a specious argument that purposefully misses the point of condemning abortion as murder.  And yet, when it comes to support for the mother in crisis AFTER she kills her child, as well as the clinic workers who deal with the reality of what they are doing by drowning themselves in addictive substances, where are the humanists and those that call hypocrisy on the pro-life movement?  It is not the liberals founding groups like Project Rachel, Rachel’s Vineyard, Silent No More, and Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None which helps workers in the abortion industry leave.  It is the pro-life people who are there.  It is the pro-life people who offer help to women in crisis pregnancies.

This being the case, since those who are pro-life DO and those who are not just talk about what hypocrites pro-lifers are since we don’t go out of our way to TALK about the basics and education rather than helping to provide them, maybe the true hypocrites are not those who call themselves pro-life.  Maybe they are more along the lines of a Catholic sister who distorts theology and Church teaching in such a way so as to mislead her audience, and give voice to dissent.

Writer’s note: Chittister is technically a Sister of the Order of Saint Benedict out of Pennsylvania.  That particular order is no longer cloistered, so, really, she’s not a nun.  The words are not interchangeable, but that’s a point only informed Catholics care about…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stick in the craw.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.