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The War We Wage

While U.S. President Barack Obama’s commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, in which he called for “common ground” on abortion, garnered vast amounts of publicity last spring, another address on the same topic at a Catholic campus went unnoticed by the secular media and was given short shrift in much of the Catholic press. Granted, the venue was not the most high-profile Catholic university in our nation, but St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, Kansas. The speaker wasn’t the slick, new leader of the most powerful nation in the world, but the leader of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Most Rev. Robert W. Finn. No, the eyes of the world were not on Bishop Finn as he delivered the keynote address at the second annual Gospel of Life Convention on April 18, 2009.

Would that they were, because his speech was, frankly, stunning. He addressed a topic that the NOR has been giving increased consideration: the nature of man’s spiritual struggle. Bishop Finn was as direct as can be, declaring at the outset: “We are at war!” And he accurately summed up this war as a constant struggle against Satan, the glamour of evil, and the lure of his false truths and empty promises. The war we wage “is ultimately a spiritual battle for the eternal salvation of souls — our own and those of other people…. Our enemy is the deceiver, the liar, Satan…. He is our spiritual or supernatural enemy when he works to tempt us, and he becomes a kind of natural enemy as he works in the hearts of other people to twist and confound God’s will.”

Bishop Finn applied this spiritual struggle to abortion: “The individual human choices I make — even one grave choice in which we remain unrepentant — can determine the direction of my salvation. To deliberately destroy a human person, and without any justification of self-defense, is to preempt without an equal and sufficient cause, the right to life bestowed by God alone.” And he identified the spiritual forces behind the struggle to keep abortion legal: “The constant magnitude of this crime against humanity is staggering…. 4000 abortions each day in the United States. This is the tally of the enemy.”

Naturally, this very Catholic understanding of the spiritual dimensions of the prolife cause didn’t sit well with the vanguard of liberal Catholicism. Each of the three standard-bearers of the liberal Catholic press glommed onto Bishop Finn’s declaration “We are at war!” in their effort to defend Notre Dame against the nearly 80 bishops who spoke out against Obama’s speech and honorary degree.

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