15 November 2008

More Dominican nonsense

Tom K at Disputations posts the following disturbing piece:

According to Nunc Pro Tunc, the following appears in the minutes of a meeting last month of the peace and justice promoters for the Western Dominican Province of the United States, in response to an email request that they "would consider the issue of abortion as a vital part of the agenda for promoters":

We all recognize abortion as contrary to support for all life, and we all support the life of the unborn. Following discussion, we agreed ... that abortion is not the central issue of social justice (although it is an important issue). In the past the overemphasis by some groups on the issue of abortion to the exclusion of other life issues, has been discussed. The group assembled decided we would recommend that abortion not be included in the new North American Dominican Call to Action.

Here's a PDF of the 2005-2006 Call to Action document, to give you an idea of what's involved.

Knowing "Justice and Peace Catholics" as I do I am not particularly shocked by this. This kind of bizarre reasoning is all too common among the breed. That Dominicans are taking this tact is sickening. The document, "Dominican Call to Action," rightly admonishes Dominicans to oppose slavery, the death penalty, etc. but fails to mention abortion.

I sent the following email to the Dominican Leadership Conference:

Dear DLC,

I recently read your document, "Dominican Call to Action," and it left me just a little confused.

Among other calls for justice, the document rightly calls Dominicans to defend human dignity by opposing human trafficking and the death penalty. Yet, I read no mention of the ultimate violation of human dignity, the legalized killing of the unborn.

I am assuming that our Justice & Peace promoters in the Order understand that no other human right makes much sense if we accept that a child can be killed in the womb. Why, for example, would trafficking in human beings be a problem for Dominicans if we are OK with killing children? Why is the death penalty a problem for us if we fail to oppose the killing of children in the womb?

The failure of the DCA to mention abortion lends moral credibility to those who traffic in human lives for profit and advocate for a wider use of the death penalty? How? Our silence on abortion undermines any claim we might make that the preservation and defense of human dignity is the goal of our Dominican pursuit of justice for all.

To say that I am disappointed in this document is an understatement. The document, in its failure to oppose forcefully the taking of innocent life, argues for everything it purports to oppose.

I would ask you to withdraw the document, amend it to include our common belief in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, and reissue it so that those who look to us and our Dominican tradition for guidance might be convinced that the human person is worth fighting for.

Your brother in Dominic,

fra. Philip Neri Powell, OP

I will keep you posted on any response I receive. Why not send your own charitable, well-reasoned email to the DLC? Email address: dlc@domlife.org

Why do I get this feeling that it is time for the DLC to be reconstituted?


  1. I spent some time in the past discerning the call to be a Dominican, your blog and the blogs and witness, of other fine Dominicans have no doubted helped to influence that, but this document put out by the DLC confuses me and and I find it disheartening. Reminds me of the time I had to cancel my amnesty international membership when they had their little "Priority shift". you don't have to publish this post but frankly hearing this from the Dominicans scares me, I would find it awful if they went the way of the Jesuits. I pray for priests like you who are willing to stand up against this lunacy.

  2. Thursday, I can tell you that the DLC does not represent the views of most younger Dominicans and quite a number of older ones. Like most bureaucratic "leadership" committees, the DLC is dominated by a self-selected group of OP's who tend to pull to the left.

    The up and coming generation is NOT of this sort. The change will take time and patience. But we need younger, orthodox vocations!!!

    Fr. Philip, OP

    1. Anonymous9:22 PM

      Sed in omnibus, caritas...

  3. Anonymous5:20 AM


    Thank you for the post and for the email that you sent to the DLC. Hopefully more OP's will do the same.

    It's got to be frustrating when these silly DLC folks make these sort of pronouncments thinking that they are representing the ENTIRE Dominican order, when in reality...they are just representing a very small minority of the Dominicans.

    It's also very telling how backwards they are by just looking at the wording in the title of their agenda proposal...."Call To Action". (sigh!)

    I would be interested in seeing if they respond to your email.

    Keep up the good work!


  4. Anonymous6:35 AM

    As a long-time member of the Lay Fraternity of Saint Dominic (Washington, D.C. metropolitan areea), I assure you that there are many lay members and friars dedicated to the cause of protecting the lives of the unborn. We are active, and we are making a difference.

    Unfortunately, it is also true to some degree, that pro-life Dominicans are in some places somewhat marginalized by the better-connected, progressive, and worldly members who wish the abortion issue would just "hush up and go away"

  5. ...Shaking the dust...

  6. Oh dear this is bad...

  7. Anonymous7:42 PM

    The issue of life as the first issue of justice will not go away. The lay people in the Western Dominican province will keep working to help the unborn.

    John Keenan JD, OPL
    Promoter, Peace and Justice
    Lay members
    Western Dominican Province

  8. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Ever since the seamless garment image of life issues was created, the argument has been constructed as follows. 1. Abortion is a serious life issue. 2. There are other serious life issues that must be included in the prolife umbrella. 3 Therefore, now that we have included all the life issues under one umbrella we no longer need to include any reference to,or discussion of, abortion.

    These are obvously pro-abortion people and are just throwing up a smoke screen.

  9. As a pro death penalty expert, and a non Catholic, I find this very bizarre.

    The teachings are very clear.

    Abortion is an intrinsic evil, The death penalty is not.

    In fact Catholics can remain in good standing with the Church and support more executions, based upon their own prudential judgement.

  10. Mr. Sharp, you are exactly right. The stand of the DCA only makes sense when you understand that the document's authors are not using Church teaching as the basis for their definition of justice. They are using secular leftist politics.

  11. Fr Philip,
    I'm reminded of your first comment response to me where you welcomed me to Catholic Wonderland.

    the insidious nature of silently removing abortion out of documents that could (and should) stand firm against it is frightening.


    one of your commentors said "shaking the dust" to which I reply...."turning over tables!"

  12. Mr. Keenan, thank you and our lay brothers and sisters for keeping this issue at the forefront. I know that it isn't easy sitting through these meetings, enduring the bullying and smug self-righteous of your "betters." Please keep it up. I'm praying for you!

  13. Anonymous8:40 AM

    I am sure it would be enlightening if we could see which Dominicabns voted which way over this issue (which, of course, we cannot). My point is that if the votes of the friars were counted separately from those of the active Sisters, there would be very little pro-abortion sentiment evident among the friars. Why are so many leaders of the Dominican men so content right now to allow the dissenting active Sisters to influence the entire Order so dramatically?

  14. Anonymous2:04 PM

    I think Anonymous' comment is right on target, Father. As a one-time potential Dominican-recruit (midwest), I felt that with the priests and student- seminarians (I never met any Brothers, but I know you have them) that I was in the company of very faithful Catholics. But whenever the Dominican "teaching" Sisters or their influences were present, a certain "presumption of dissent" was present. (None of the Sisters to whom I am referring were ever wearing a habit). I fell away from interest in the Order and am pursuing a more traditionally-valued group now. I could have been happy with the Dominicans, but a couple of my contacts were very involved in the social justice (and love of creation or something like that) movement and very involved with the Sisters who seemed critical of the Church, and I was discouraged away from the order. Your mixing of the first and third order religious together makes you ambiguous. I wish you OP fellows would stand on your own two feet, leave the dissenting Sisters behind, and gather in the many vocations that are out there. I could say more, but I won't...

  15. JoeJoe,

    It is a commonly held but largely unspoken belief among friars of a certain generation that the rhetoric of "Dominican Family" is really just an attempt to pull the friars into that sort of relationship with the sisters where any criticism of the sisters by the friars--no matter how right or needed--is seen as mean-spirited, non-collaborative, and "against the family." When you look carefully at how the Dominican Family rhetoric actually works, it works to make the equality of the different branches of the family into a functional sameness. For example, family rhetoric is almost always invoked by OP's who regularly disobey the Church's admonition against lay preachers at Mass. You also see it when mixed OP groups gather for liturgies...there's a concentrated effort to "balance roles" and "represent diversity." In fact, the liturgy becomes little more than an opportunity to celebrate ourselves in all our P.C. splendor.

  16. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Your response makes sense to me, Father, but for what it's worth,that's exactly my point. When the OP priests fail to speak out against the atmosphere of dissent in which they find themselves (created in large part by many of your "teaching" Sisters), it harms your Order. It was actually two Dominican Sisters (well one might not have been OP), whose heavy involvement with your junior monks where they study scared me away from joining the Dominicans. (I now know that it isn't the same for all the Provinces, but what guy knows about all that before he signs up?)
    I wish you guys would stand on your own two feet and let the ladies just wreck their own next! We need you guys to be at your best for the Church!