To begin, this is just an overview of my criticisms for now. I am not going to dive too deep into this, nor am I going to pull up exercepts of this fellow’s work to make my point. A lot of the passages where he gets into his anti-abortion diatribes make me anxious and uncomfortable to begin with, so I’d rather not quote them for now.
So… I read this newsletter called The Pillar, hosted through Substack, initially, though I think they have since migrated to a similar service. Anyway, they have some very hard-hitting stuff in the Catholic world. Financial woes, clergy debocles, descrimination, etc. I like it. I’ve been reading it for a few years. However, during these years, a creeping animosity often seeps into the twice weekly updates, and usually from one cofounder/lead editor, that being Ed Condon. Both Condon and the other co-founder, JD Flynn, are canon lawyers, meaning have a degree about the laws that govern the Catholic Church. They also, like many Substack creators, previously reported in legacy media. In their case, it was National Catholic Reporter, which is a left-center magazine in ideology. As far as their successor’s leanings, it is similar, but sometimes more right.
Condon is sometimes a textualist as far as Canon law goes, meaning he often goes directly by the texts which govern the Church before making decisions or changes. It’s a philosophy that can be applied to any sort of set of laws, rules, or regulations. Quaranic law, rabbinic law, civil law, rules of American football, etc. Maybe because I am very literary minded and somewhat of a low-context communicator, I consider myself often to be a textualist as well. But there are limits to textualism, as constitutions, regulations, and canons can only include so much. They are written generally, and do not “hold your hand” to any specifics. Like, SpongeBob in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants gives an example of something that would never be in an employee handbook to his boss, Mr. Krabs (who, in the moment, he does not recognize as Mr. Krabs, but a robot impostor): “If we were discussing Krabby Patty secret formula while eating vanilla pudding on the third Wednesday in January and it’s not raining outside, what would you say?” Thus, Condon seems to know to still treat LGBT people fairly, provide women with equal opportunity (to an extent, he still is rigid on exclusion to women’s ordination to priesthood), among a few other progressive thoughts.
However, I do not believe he treats those who have, give, or support abortions with enough of the respect they deserve. He is very staunch and argumentive about how Catholic doctrine cannot support this. He uses his expertise as a canon lawyer to justify his distaste. Still, it is very hard for me to see his textualism as solely the reason for his harshness. He has provided several anecdotes about his personal life. One that particularly strikes me is that he and his wife made several efforts to conceive a child with no avail for around a decade and a half, give or take.
Thus, I take it his knowledge of accidental pregnancies irked him, and filled him with jealousy. And to see this accidents end in abortion just twisted the knife. I really regret having to make another SpongeBob reference again, but it was like when SpongeBob and Patrick ran a profitable food stand, Mr. Krabs shrieked after learning they had burned, shredded, burned, and gave away much of their earnings. “You have the opportunity I want, and you destroyed it.” That’s really why you are pro-life, Mr. Condon. Unfortunate personal experiences. Not simply because you are a canon lawyer or journalist in the Catholic niche.
Admittedly, Condon knows he is hot-tempered and begrudging. He does intend to work on this, and I implore him to explore this aspect of himself. I encourage him, instead of chatisting a liberal Catholic movement or group, such as Catholics for Choice and others, listen with them. No, don’t just listen to the gimmicky rallying cries, but actually listen to them in their own words, intimately. Don’t just pray for them to change. Some Catholic hospitals out there do perform abortions or give birth control and other gynecological care. Talk with them.
I say this because I know his burdens will feel so lessened if he radiaccally accepts this reality. It is so weighty harboring so much jealousy in your heart. I already do like some of the efforts to where his pro-life exploration has taken him. His coverage on fighting eugenics (especially the emphasis on how people with Down syndrome are leading the fight), and eliminating death penalties, and curbing the ease of assisted suicide, especially in Veteran Affairs facilities in Canada, are all great, respectable pro-life angles I’d love to read about.
Anyway, I just thought it would be good to write an open letter about this, as I really don’t want Mr. Condon to think I am being accusatory. I think there are a lot of people in the pro-life movement who may think like him and ought to hear something like this.