John Smeaton has posted SPUC's initial response to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales's new document, 'Choosing the Common Good.'
The perpetually excellent and concise John Smeaton says, on his blog says that the Bishops new guide...
- is inadequate from pro-life perspective
- fails to give voters clear guidance how to make the best choice when voting
- relies on the classic “seamless garment” error (see below)
- has some good insights into the plight of families
- is good that it challenges politicians to act ethically.
Pro-life issues are first mentioned on page 15 of the bishops' guide. It says: "defence of the immeasurable value of human life is part of a ‘seamless robe‘".
The 'seamless robe' or 'seamless garment' approach to pro-life issues has been debunked by, among others, Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the "supreme court" of the Catholic Church), who said in September:
“Whatever the good intention of using the image of a seamless garment to talk about the moral issues regarding human life, it has become identified with the proportionalist way of thinking in which, for example, acts of war, the use of the death penalty, procured abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and euthanasia are viewed as matters of equal moral weight.
In other words, the image covers over the distinction between intrinsically evil acts and acts which are not evil in themselves but can become evil, if unjustly taken. The moral questions pertaining to the safeguarding and fostering of human life are all related to one another but they are not of the same weight. To use the image of the garment, they are not all of the same cloth.
The use of the metaphor of the seamless garment, while it may have been intended to promote the culture of life, has, in fact, been used to justify the acceptance of acts essentially contrary to a culture of life for the sake of attaining some seeming good. Whatever good intention those who have developed the "seamless garment" argument may have had, it falsely places intrinsically evil acts, that is, acts which are always and everywhere morally wrong, on the same plane with acts which, according to prudent judgment, may not sufficiently safeguard human life.”
Isn't Archbishop Raymond Burke wonderful? What we'd give for one Bishop of Archbishop Raymond's calibre and loyalty to the Apostolic Tradition and the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church. Ever since I saw the really quite funny film, 'Hot Fuzz' , I've been amused when I hear of the concept of the 'Common Good' and ever since Rousseau used that or a similar phrase more than once and his ideas were then used by the architects of the French Revolution, in which anyone who didn't believe that the 'Common Good' was a great idea got killed, for the, er, common good, I've been wary of it. There's something that sounds vaguely masonic about the phrase.
Actually, in fairness, 'Hot Fuzz' uses the phrase 'Greater Good', which is slightly different, since 'Greater' implies that a minority are left without the benefits of the 'Good'. In the spoof hit movie which takes off loads of cop movies, a top Met policeman is sent to a tiny village where all the 'accidents' gradually, he realises, are murders. So, the hooded youths are being rounded up, killed and put in a Church basement and anyone who brings down the image of the town, like adulterous thespians, are knocked off by the sinister parish council. Remind you of anywhere?
As long as it respects human life from conception to death, however, it is fundamentally a good concept and one which Holy Mother Church frequently uses. I think even the Holy Father used the phrase in Caritas in Veritate. In fact, Caritas in Veritate isn't a bad election manifesto, is it, or even name for a political party?
Anyway, I digress. I found this rather inspiring video above on YouTube, made by a US Catholic Group on Voting for the Common Good. If we had a Catholic or umbrella Christian party in the UK which could hold its ground and hold onto its deposit, then all you'd have to do would be to more or less copy it and post it on YouTube. Apologies, of course, for the atrocious Gregorian Chant version of John Lennon's 'Imagine' in the background.