The Catholic Thing
HOME        ARCHIVES        IN THE NEWS        COMMENTARY        NOTABLE        DONATE
Politicians, Old Buildings, and Whores Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 03 December 2010

Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman once called former president of the so-called Catholics for a Free Choice, Frances Kissling, the “philosopher of the pro-choice movement.” Well, let’s see the Philosopher in action.

A few years ago, pro-life lobbyist Peter Smith ran into Kissling on an escalator at the United Nations. Smith, a jolly Australian with nary a critical word about anyone – even Kissling – gave her a big smile, stuck out his hand, and said, “Hello, Frances.” Kissling glared at him and said, “Get away from me or I am calling security.”

I had the same experience. A few years ago, I was invited to appear on a session of CNN’s “Crossfire” with Kissling. Right before the live show, we were standing next to each other. Though we had met a few years before at a conference in The Hague, we had not spoken since. I stuck out my hand and said, “Hello, Frances.” The Philosopher just glared. 

Here is Kissling philosophizing about some of her opponents: “The Catholic right is uglier and meaner than anyone on the religious right, worse than the Falwells and Robertsons. The viciousness of the Donohues, the Deal Hudsons, the George Weigels and the Richard John Neuhauses is soul-numbing.”

There’s no surprise why she was the longtime president of Catholics for a Free Choice, a dissident group dedicated to undermining the teachings of the Church. They are now called Catholics for Choice. Bishops representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have twice condemned them. Big foundations pay for her former group – the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller, and others – that wish the Church ill, or at least see the Church as the last bastion against the radical ethos.

Kissling has a long and troubled past. Her enmity toward the Church started, she claims, with how the Church supposedly treated her mother. Kissling claims to have once been a postulant in a religious order. She then went on to run an abortion clinic, and later to head “Catholics” for a Free Choice. As its leader, she famously said that she “searched the whole world for a government to overthrow and found it in the Holy See.” Among other things, she ran a campaign to throw the Catholic Church out of the United Nations, an effort that failed miserably and embarrassingly for her and her colleagues.

 
       Kissling “searched the whole world for a government to overthrow
and found it in the Holy See.”

In recent times, it seems, Kissling has come to believe Goodman’s comment that she is some kind of philosopher. She “retired” from Catholics for a Free Choice a few years ago, though she is listed on their 2008 tax return as “former president” with a salary of close to $400,000. In her new role as Philosopher she decamped to the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania where she is a “scholar” in residence.

She recently co-hosted a “dialogue” on common ground at Princeton University in which, behind the scenes, she appears to have bare-knuckled her less experienced pro-life interlocutors into letting her call most of the shots. However, at the conference and afterwards butter wouldn’t have melted in her mouth.

Afterward she wrote almost lovingly, “Simply put, one hopes that dialogue between those opposed to and in favor of a woman’s right to choose abortion would result in a more realistic public debate; less name-calling and attacking and more reasoned argumentation for each position.” She also wrote, “When people who disagree passionately on something important to them take the time to sit down and engage each other, good things happen. At a minimum, they find out the ‘other’ is a human being, not the devil incarnate.” Sounds great.

But just this week, blogging at an Internet site called RH Reality Check, she ripped the Vatican (and me, I am proud to say) for our “brutal” rhetoric. At one and the same time, Kissling can criticize her opponents for calling names and in the same breath call her opponents names.

She is a divided woman. Those of us who have met on the actual field of pro-life battle – at the United Nations and elsewhere – know a very different woman than the one who steps forward at common-ground conferences with the cameras on. On stage, Kissling is funny, articulate, charming, pixyish even. Backstage? Well you have seen what she can be like backstage.

I once held out hope that Kissling was actually changing. Some years ago she began to recognize the humanity of the fetus (though, she does not believe it a child) and its ability to feel pain, and criticized her pro-abortion friends for failing to acknowledge them. It seemed like a good opening. She has not moved at all beyond that point. Maybe she will finally reach the logical conclusion, or maybe she is simply hoping for the kind of status Noah Cross (John Huston) described in the movie Chinatown: “Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.” For the record, I do not consider Frances a whore. I consider her a true believer in abortion and I actually respect her usual brawling style.

What’s more – and Frances knows this – I pray for her by name every single day on the fifth decade of the Rosary. Where there is life, there is hope. I just wish she believed that, too.

 
Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

©2010 The Catholic Thing.
All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

Rules for Commenting

The Catholic Thing welcomes comments, which should reflect a sense of brevity and a spirit of Christian civility, and which, as discretion indicates, we reserve the right to publish or not. And, please, do not include links to other websites; we simply haven't time to check them all.

Comments (13)Add Comment
0
...
written by Grump, December 03, 2010
Does Kissling rhyme with Quisling? How to make yourself rich and famous: take a stand for murder.
0
...
written by Bill, December 03, 2010
When the Church refuses to use the tool of excommunication, the "dialogue" goes on ad nauseum. Whether the dissident is Kissling, Fr. Charles Curran, Fr. Thomas Reese or the plethora of "Catholic" politicians, they will always be able to leave doubts on this subject in the minds of the ill-informed. Instead of just dedicating the fifth decade of the Rosary for a change of heart in Ms. Kissling, Mr. Ruse, you had better dedicate all five decades. People are losing interest in a feckless Church.
0
...
written by Jacob, December 03, 2010
Speak yourself Bill..you may be losing interest in the Church.

However "people" are driving the worldwide expansion of the Catholic Church (though some say Islam is expanding faster, you tell me who's doing more for human flourishing and who's doing more to preserve a birth rate they're unable to sustain economically and then begging us for money, or living off of us like parasites as do those of the international "secular" leftist community).
0
...
written by debby, December 03, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, our Great Mother the Church celebrated The Feast of CHRIST THE KING. the Gospel that Sunday was an unlikely scene if you think about it, in the natural, as if you have never heard this "story" before. 3 men, one so brutally beaten he was described as unrecognizable as a human (Isaiah 53), all condemned to death by crucifixion for crimes committed. one thief turns and with incredulity remarks to the other thief, "don't you fear GOD? we deserve what is happening to us," and then does what would be unbelievable had not witnesses recorded the account. he acknowledges this beaten mass of flesh as The KING and with humility and contrition asks, "remember me when you come into your kingdom." what separated these two thieves? i have come to believe it was his mother, or someone in his life, who had prayed for him. someone interceded on his behalf and then, at the foot of his own cross, another Mother interceded and the grace of final repentance was responded to. this thief's mother never saw the conversion of her son, but she may have met him at the door of Paradise that day. God is Faithful and His Word never returns void. The prayer of the righteous avails much.
keep praying for Kissling and all those around us who are living the lie of this culture of death. Where there is LIFE THERE IS HOPE BECAUSE JESUS IS LIFE.
0
...
written by Dan Deeny, December 03, 2010
Interesting article.
1. Doesn't Jesus say somewhere in the Bible that tax collectors and harlots are entering heaven ahead of the others?
2. How did Frances Kissling get this way?
0
...
written by Jacob, December 03, 2010
I feel like a fool for leaving such an angry comment earlier.

But I do believe it's completely absurd the way it's nearly impossible to be honest about how the world has worked throughout history. I'm ok with being truthful about (and grieving for) civilians or natives killed by colonialists and Americans if I can also hear about how the life expectancy of all those people has increased by thirty years due to Western technology..not to mention democracy.
(I have Choctaw and majority Iranian blood so I'm certainly not opining from any kind of supremacist perspective.)

Sorry for going off topic from this wonderful article which I think is more evidence of the absurdity of our society.
0
...
written by John W Gillis, December 05, 2010
So, the purpose of the “politicians, ugly buildings, and whores" tag line was exactly... what?

I just linked to site from my blog, referencing another article, and I find this trash-talking on the front page... count me unimpressed. I hope it's an anomaly.
0
...
written by Austin Ruse, December 06, 2010
John,

It's a great line and means that like politicians, ugly building and whores, abortion advocates like Frances also seek respectability. But then, that was clear in the piece. I suspect you did not read the article...
0
...
written by Richard Doerflinger, December 07, 2010
Austin captures the gist of Frances Kissling's quote about overthrowing governments, but the exact quote is even more revealing. It is at the beginning of a profile of Ms. Kissling titled "Hail Frances" by Naomi Theodorou, in Mother Jones magazine, May/June 1991 issue, page 11: “'I spent twenty years looking for a government that I could overthrow without being thrown in jail,' says Frances Kissling. 'I finally found one in the Catholic church.'” The full quote is even more cynical and opportunistic.
0
...
written by Austin Ruse, December 07, 2010
Nice, Richard. Thanks!
0
...
written by John W Gillis, December 08, 2010
Austin,

I'm sorry, but I actually had read the article before commenting. If I could be so impertinent, I might suggest that anytime you feel the need to write a disclaimer such as "For the record, I do not consider n a whore", you may want to just rethink the idea. Just sayin...
0
...
written by jason taylor, December 08, 2010
written by Dan Deeny, December 03, 2010
Interesting article.
1. Doesn't Jesus say somewhere in the Bible that tax collectors and harlots are entering heaven ahead of the others?
2. How did Frances Kissling get this way?
--------------------------------------------

No it said they would get there ahead of the pharisees. My own evaluation vis a vis harlots is God's business not mine, though as I have a family member who was once a tax collector I should hope he finds favor.
0
...
written by Austin Ruse, December 09, 2010
John,

I do not understand your criticism then. Please explain.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

security code
Write the displayed characters


busy
 

Other Articles By This Author

CONTACT US FOR ADVERTISERS ABOUT US
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner