We’re seeing something like this realization now in the surprise New Year’s Eve move by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Sotomayor to hold off penalties for the Little Sisters of the Poor’s noncompliance in the face of the Obama administration’s abortion-drug, contraception and sterilization health care mandate. After the story of various lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services went untold or dismissed, suddenly the narrative of the forced constricting of religious liberty — targeting the likes of nuns running elderly-care homes — in America is hard to avoid.
In his Christmas message, Pope Francis implored Christians to “pause before the Child of Bethlehem.” He continued: “Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God.”
It’s hard to know how talk of the tenderness of God is received in a cynical culture numbed by evasions that keep us from confronting wounds. We tend to both overcomplicate matters and distract ourselves from what is right in front of us.
We debate about abortion, pretending it’s all a matter of women’s health and freedom. But what we’re really doing in so many of our most high-profile campaigns and exchanges is compounding a culture of violence of the most intimate sort.
“I actually trust the women I know. I trust them with their choices, I trust them with their bodies and I trust them with their children,” Ruffalo has written. But do children belong to mothers only? What a far cry from the liberal embrace of “It takes a village to raise a child”! Ruffalo is himself a father. How about getting rid of this false disconnect? Putting aside some of the political rhetoric, perhaps we can begin again and acknowledge that there is a cultural responsibility to support and encourage a mother and father to rise to the occasion of parenthood?
Rather than doubling down on the misery of abortion, let’s put out the welcome mats to life in 2014. Just like heaven, there can be tenderness on earth, too -- even in social media, even on the most contentious of issues.
(Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online, director of Catholic Voices USA and a consultant with the Magnificat Foundation. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)