Yesterday (10/21/2008) I received an email from Ashley informing me that was I wrong in my assessment of Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Fordham University’s giving the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize. Her email states:
Last I checked Pro-Abortion wasn’t an option in the fight between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. Justice Breyer is not PRO-ABORTION…no one is PRO-ABORTION. He simply wrote the opinion honoring a woman’s right to choose. That means in cases of rape and incest included.
This award is not given by Father McShane. It is awarded by the LAW SCHOOL as an award of LEGAL ETHICS. That means that during his legal career spanning decades he has governed in a fair and ethical way not taking bribes for instance or being caught up in scandal. Whether or not you agree with his morals is irrelevant.
Making it as a Supreme Court Justice is pretty outstanding if you ask me. He must have done something right. I admire all 9 of them and have respect for all of their achievements.
Also, to better inform you, there is a selection committee of people all over the country that vote on the awardee. This process has resulted in several Supreme Court Justices honored, former Deans of Fordham Law, Fordham Law alumni and others in the legal community with outstanding legal careers. This committee is made of people from all walks of life nominating those strictly based on the ethics (NOT MORALS) of their legal careers. After nominations are made it is narrowed down and there is a vote and whether it goes your way or not we respect the democratic system that we live in.
Ashley is unaware of many basic points of theology. She is also playing games with the English language and politicizing it to her advantage akin to what George Orwell writes in his1946 essay “Politics and the English Language.” Moreover, Ashley is clearly unaware of the expectations of the Church and the Jesuits, never mind the rights of the Catholic faithful who have a right to expect priests and Catholic universities to closely adhere to the objectivity of the Faith. If you call yourself Catholic then act as a faithful Catholic who knows Jesus Christ and the Church.
In regard to the process of making an award and Father McShane’s role in this matter: as president of the university McShane makes the final decision on who is given a university honor. He is, however, ultimately responsible for what every school in the university does and says. This is just a suggestion but I hope Ashley would read the New Testament, the oath of fidelity (which Father McShane took), Evangelium Vitae (1995) and Ex Corde Ecclesia (1990) says before she tries to parse out who does what when and why. The faith is not voted on in a court of public opinion; faith is truth. And here objective truth exists.
I counter, therefore, the giving of an ethics award to Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer by Fordham University Law School. Justice Breyer’s service to unborn children in the legal system is regrettable in every way because of his constant and influential work in favor of legalized abortion. I fail to see how Breyer “promotes the advancement of justice” when he advocates for abortion. Breyer’s smugness with moral evil is irreconcilable with the dignity of the human person, in this case with the unborn, and with the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. Since Fordham University does not stand apart from neither Catholic theology nor the Church and therefore it ought not to honor those who advocate policies and laws that are contrary to human flourishing and Church teaching. Abortion is contrary to the eternal, divine, natural laws. The United States Catholic Bishops have said that people who hold positions that oppose Church teaching “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions” by Catholic universities.
Nowhere in my previous post on this blog or in any other media have I launched an ad hominem attack on the Justice. Further, I think one can only reasonably question and challenge one’s thinking and not trash the person’s character. Certainly Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer is a man of great intellect, an accomplished lawyer and acknowledged as a valuable Justice in this nation’s highest court. It would be unreasonable to argue to the contrary. In the context of Fordham the responsibility and duty to uphold Catholic teaching in all matters of life belongs to Society of Jesus to which Father McShane belongs as he is a solemnly professed Jesuit and an ordained Catholic priest, to Fordham University where the exercise of faith and reason is promoted and the Archdiocese of New York as the local magisterium.
In the 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart case the Justice said: “[B]efore ‘viability the woman has the right to choose to terminate her pregnancy.” Breyer wrote the Supreme Court’s majority opinion for the (a 5-4 decision), which overturned a Nebraska state law banning partial-birth abortion. Therefore, I assert that Breyer’s thinking is pro-abortion and not merely pro-choice.
Are partial-birth abortions medically necessary? No, never; no science would support this act. And the majority on the court recognized this fact. But Breyer voted against a Congressional ban on partial-birth abortion in Gonzalez v. Carhart, and the Supreme Court upheld that law, again by a 5-4 decision.
It seems to me that Fordham forfeits its mission as a place where faith and reason collaborate as a Catholic university by bestowing the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize on Justice Breyer, or anyone else, who demonstrates contempt for Catholic teaching. I reiterate my earlier question: Is it time for Fordham University to disavow its Catholicity if it is going to honor public figures who advocate and/or support the right to choose abortion? The death of the vulnerable, the unborn child, even in the case of rape and the mother’s health, is tragic and should be avoided.