Why the Good Sister is Wrong

by David B. Couturier, OFM Cap., PhD, DMin.

The following is by David B. Couturier, OFM Cap., PhD, DMin., Executive Director of the Franciscan Institute and Associate Professor of Theology and Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University in response to remarks made at the Republican National Convention by Sr. Deirdre ‘Dede’ Byrne, POSC.

These views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Franciscan Action Network.

First, I am pro-life. I am pro-life across all its dimensions: unborn, mothers’ health, health care, children’s rights, immigrant rights, against the death penalty, etc.

Second, I honor Sister’s military service as a doctor and a surgeon and I honor her religious life. She is committed and concerned and she has shown it with her life of service on the front lines. Her life is exemplary.

But, I think she is absolutely wrong on her conclusion that Trump is pro-life and she fails tragically in her argument that Trump deserves our vote because he is the “most pro-life President” of all times. He is not.

Trump is not pro-life. He may be anti-abortion (and that is doubtful) but that does not mean that he is pro-life in the fullest sense of Catholic social and moral teaching. The reasons are clear and his policy arguments and actions indicate this.

He wants to dismantle universal health care, without providing an alternative model. He has shown us no alternative model of health care for Americans. His dismantling would lead to 20 million people losing their health care immediately. Health care that is thorough and available, especially to the poor, is a human right, according to the Catholic Church.

Trump is for the death penalty, which is against the Church’s moral teaching on the dignity of human life.

Trump has separated children from their parents, without plans to reunite them, and has continued to put them in cages. This is not pro-life.

Trump’s ignorance, lethargy, resistance and failed policies on the COVID pandemic have led to tens of thousands of needless deaths. This is not pro-life.

Trump has trumpeted the sexual assault against women, has paid off a porn-star with whom he had an affair, and has been accused of assault and rape by at least 19 women. This is not pro-life.

He has supported gun policies that have flooded our streets with the most lethal forms of weapons and has produced no policies to curb the accessibility of arms on American streets and around the world. This is not pro-life.

Trump has gutted the climate remediation efforts globally, making America the only country in the world not to sign on to the Paris Climate Accord. He has relaxed efforts to clean up the environment. This is not pro-life.

Trump has promoted two judges to the Supreme Court who in turn voted to uphold Roe v Wade policies. This is not pro-life.

Trump has actively promoted the administrations of Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea, which have histories of extra-judicial murders of state including journalists. This is not pro-life.

Trump has promoted or justified the actions of white supremacists and ridiculed the disabled. This is not pro-life.

If you are Republican and want to vote pro-life, please do so. But, you cannot justify voting for Trump because he is pro-life. He is clearly not.

If you do not want to vote for Joe Biden because he is not pro-life enough for you, that’s your choice. If your conscience tells you that you must vote pro-life, then vote your conscience. You must vote your conscience. But, inform your conscience and make sure that your position is clearly and coherently pro-life. If you do, you will see what other Catholics know for certain. Trump is not pro-life! The Good Sister is totally wrong on that point.

Reposted with permission

An accomplished author, speaker, and writer, David B. Couturier, OFM Cap., PhD, DMin. serves as the Executive Director of the Franciscan Institute and is an Associate Professor of Theology and Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University.

Published in: on September 2, 2020 at 4:04 pm  Comments (22)  

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  1. Why can’t Sr Deidre speak her voice and give her opinion without a rebuke. he is the only president to attend the annual pro life March in Washington DC. He has appointed conservative judges that actually believe in what the church believes, that every human being born and unborn are sacred. Since when does Thou shalt not kill not apply to the unborn. He has tried to stop abortion more than any other president. Of course there are many issues that we face. But the unborn are the only ones who have no choice whether to be cut up in the womb, put to death for no reason but that they are not wanted. For shame . The church teaches against abortion. Period. Unfortunately many in the church make excuses for it by speaking about other important issues and forgetting about the unborn. Even children who manage to live through an abortion are allowed to be put aside to die on their own. No wonder so many people are walking away from the church. It says one thing and does another.

    Sent from my iPad


    • Have you heard of the separation of church and state!!!

    • Well said.

  2. With all due respect, I agree with Sister. And yes, we have “informed our conscience”, thank you, and we are “clearly and coherently pro-life”! God bless us all as we refrain from judgement, study the issues, and cast our ballot.

  3. Actually, the GOP opposes the majority of the Church’s public policy positions.

  4. […] Thoughts about what being pro-life means from a Franciscan […]

  5. Thank you, Dr. Couturier, for articulating the full pro-life teachings of the Church, and reminding us that being pro-life includes more than being anti-abortion.

  6. This election is about all of humanity. Trump is an Evil Narcissist. Look it up. Eric Fromme classified it as an extreme mental illness. Trump has caused many women to have abortions and has paid for them, the good sister is naive. Trump is incapable of empathy and compassion. He does not follow the teachings of Jesus in any way. His is using his fake “Christianity” to win the votes of the evangelical Protestants. Hence photo op with the King James Bible during the protests.

  7. Peace my friends
    I am a Pro-Life Democrat, I am also a Veteran that votes. Not mutually exclusive positions. I was a HM-1 (E-6) pacifist 1966-70. I can only embrace the Seamless Garment of Life, neither party walks that path. One candidate does appear to have more compassion.
    Jim Myres, OFS

  8. Dear Sr. Dede, with respect and admiration for your ministry, I cannot agree that Donald Trump is “the most pro-life President we have ever had”. I respectfully submit, that you have elevated the righteous, and holy cause of the unborn higher than the primacy of love so betrayed by presidential leadership, animated by an unholy spirit of demeaning, dehumanizing denigrations contrary to the spirit of Jesus Christ and actively fomenting fratricidal tensions in the land by his reckless and slanderous words and actions….President Trump will not be able to lead America out of the highly toxic situation he continues to keep inflamed. This toxin is demonic and cannot be reduced to merely “ tone” or “style”. It is anti-life. It is anti-Christ, in the deepest meaning of that Word. The “good end” of the Church’s teaching on abortion does not justify such a pathological sick means to get there. President Trump’s leadership continues to recklessly inflame hatred at a time of high tension in America. He is morally culpable in contributing to the toxic climate we are living in and and unfit to lead us because of it. The good and righteous moral, cause of of the unborn and most every other human rights issue will take a backseat in importance if we descend into fratricidal violence the likes most Americans have never seen. After nearly 7 years in southern Africa, (Zimbabwe, South Africa), Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years in prison during our final year. We will require similar leadership to get through our current crisis, with a president animated by a healthier spirit than the one coming through our current president. Good physicians, like yourself, are able to diagnose disease from the presenting symptoms of their patients with careful observations and sound diagnostic tools. They are able to name the disease without condemning their patient. Similarly ” good ” pro-life” doctors of the soul, are able to discern pathology in the spirit, without condemning those who come to them in clearly distressed states. They are able to name the disease, harming a person, harming the body and do not turn a blind eye to lethal malignancy, harmful not only to the person, but to a nation. Sincerely, Melanie Statom

    • Thanks for writing this very thoughtful reply. I spend hours reading and trying to prepare to articulate my thoughts when the chance arises. It helps a lot of read other’s words!

  9. To be pro Life is best seen in the freedom of choice. Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross. Our Father, wouldn’t take away our freedom to kill Him. We all love Life and yet we all choose at times to kill Life. There are many movements that are out trying to preserve the Life in all living things. We can only evolve by making pro Life choices, not in condemning the freedom to choose. Deacon’82 Environment and Global Interdependence.

    • That makes no sense. It is a clear, fundamental sin to kill an unborn child. Further, we are called to protect the vulnerable, not sit idly by and allow them to be killed because it’s “a choice.” You better believe if someone wanted to “choose” to hurt one of my children he or she would have hell to pay. Freedom of choice, in a moral sense, applies to choices within moral bounds. How hypocritical to say the an undocumented immigrant is entitled to all the protections of a US citizen, and yet a US citizen with a beating heart can be torn apart and thrown in a medical waste bin, and how heartless it is to say that these issues are in any way comparable.

  10. Objectively, President Trump lies unremittingly, he neither respects Rule of Law nor Separation of Powers, and he has been credibly accused of various crimes including sexual assault and tax evasion. I’m a registered republican, Roman Catholic who simply looks at a totality of facts.

  11. What politician anyplace in the world meets all of the detailed criteria for being “pro-life” outlined by the good professor? What is factually correct is that Trump has done more than any other US President to restrict or eliminate liberal abortion that is pervading the US and many other countries where US-based abortion funders or providers operate. Despite his many faults, that is good reason to vote for him if the Democrats’ policy of abortion up to birth and infanticide are to be curtailed and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives are to be saved from the money-machine that the abortion industry is. The good professor can have his academic arguments but saving the lives of the most innocent is more important.

  12. There seems to be a misunderstanding here regarding ‘the democrats’ policy’ on abortion. There is no ‘policy’. Laws vary by state. As the Church has stated, we must look at intent. Judging by the intent of our current president, there is no way that I can in good conscience support another four years of this form of ‘leadership’. He has had four years to abolish abortion as he promised in his campaign. Did he do that? Yet in good conscience, Catholics who are willing to give him four more years to demean, dehumanize and ridicule the spirit of Jesus cause me to wonder if they in truth to believe ‘all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches’.

  13. I can honestly say AMEN to the many responses concerning what was said at the RNC concerning President Trump. I asked what data there was that supported the theory that this president is the most pro life president. Everything this president says or does is totally against what our Catholic faith teaches. I do not feel that by voting for Joe Biden we are committing a sin and should go to confession. The sister that spoke at the convention said as much in talking with a caller that voted for Obama in the previous election. Guess she doesn’t realize that church and state do not mix.

  14. Sorry…but these are just regurgitated liberal talking points with a catholic spin. If you do’t like him find…but as a Catholic i’m offended by the misleading statements.

  15. If you think President Trump is trustworthy, you’d better ask yourself, after 4 years in power, what are his concrete achievements to protect the unborn? What makes you think that he would achieve more if re-elected? Do you think that ‘saying’ that one is pro-life and participating in pro-life marches is the same as one being pro-life and putting one’s money where one’s mouth is?
    The truth is that one of President Trump’s favorite tactics to gain the favor of those who do not check if he’s doing a really fantastic job or if he is only saying that he doing a really fantastic job is to constantly repeat that he is doing an incredibly fantastic job.
    What really is incredible is that, after around 200,000 deaths because of the pandemic and his almost complete lack of responsibility, anyone in the U.S. can still believe that he is doing a fantastic job, and that the U.S. government performance is by far the best in the whole wide world.
    He has invested billions in weapons capable of killing millions of people, in such way gaining the backing of all the millionaires who manufacture those weapons. How about pro-life projects? Support for the helpless mothers and their unborn children? Support for a pro-life education for the new generations? Support for childless couples who would love to adopt unwanted children? Support for the institutions (most probably religious) who care for defective children?
    The hard truth is that if President Trump directed more money into pro-life, pro health-care and pro-better education for the poor, he would not be able to deliver larger and larger tax cuts for the richest, starting with himself.

  16. First John 4:20-21 convicts those who would claim to be pro-life but demonstrate no love or care for human life outside the womb. The good sister is not mistaken in her zeal for the fate of the unborn whom we can’t see, but to ignore Donald Trump’s life being steeped in rape-culture philandering, his embrace of the dark side of the 2nd Amendment, his inability to criticize or distance himself from racist and nationalistic extremism, his cozying up to despotic dictators and disrespect for America’s traditional democratic allies, render any Catholic support for his candidacy for a second term alarming. Abortion is an incredible sin and a moral tragedy for those who lack hope in raising a child, but legislation to ban abortion will not eliminate the root causes of poverty and inadequate health care, or, in Donald Trump’s case, male sexual promiscuity that put individuals at risk for seeking an abortion. As a pro-life, Republican father of five and grandfather of six, the choice is clear, and it is not the hopelessly divisive malfeasance of a pathological narcissist like Donald Trump.

  17. […] Father David B. Couturier is the Executive Director of the Franciscan Institute. In his response to the dynamic prolife speech made at the Republican National Convention by Sr. Deirdre Byrne, […]

  18. Ok, so we don’t have “universal health care”. Second, anyone in the US, legal or illegal, gets free medical care. Third, Trump is far more pro life than Joe BIden ever was.

    If you look at the last 2 years, by any measure Trump is not only morally superior to Biden, he was a much better president.

    We have to choose the most moral option. Jesus Christ Himself acknowledged degrees of sin.

    FInally, the Sister is wrong theologically: Mary was not a single mother.

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