Religion reporter Neela Banerjee marked the retirement of left-wing abortion-rights advocate Frances Kissling, head of the group Catholics for a Free Choice, in Tuesday's "Backing Abortion Rights While Keeping the Faith - A Career Defying Catholic Tenets on Sex."
"Frances Kissling has been called the 'philosopher of the pro-choice movement' by her friends and an 'abortion queen' by her critics.
"But the name Ms. Kissling wears most defiantly, to the consternation of many religious believers, is Roman Catholic. For 25 years, as president of Catholics for a Free Choice, she has angered the church hierarchy and conservative Catholics by criticizing fundamental teachings on sex.
"'I'm so Catholic, I can't get away from it,' said Ms. Kissling, who was once in a convent. 'How I construct concepts of life, of justice, it all comes out of being Catholic.'
"Though unknown to most lay Catholics, she has inspired and worked with politicians and activists, many Catholic, to speak out in favor of giving women access to abortions and to artificial contraception."
"On Wednesday, Ms. Kissling, 63, will step down from her post, relinquishing her role as one of the most vocal of the so-called bad Catholics, those who manage to accommodate the opposing sentiments of love for the church and anger at much of its doctrine."
Kissling has a funny way of showing her "love for the church." Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online wrote about Kissling at CrisisMagazine in 2002 and provided detail ofher activism going beyond her liberal stance on abortion that the Times doesn't: "She wants to boot the Vatican from the United Nations (UN). She wants bishops to tell Catholics it's okay to use condoms - even to distribute them. She wants RU-486, the abortion pill, to be cheaper. She wants Catholic hospitals to perform the whole gamut of 'reproductive service,' including abortion and sterilization. She wants 'gender equity,' even in the Roman Catholic priesthood."
Banerjee managed to go through the entire article without labeling Kissling as a left-winger, although she did note the secular funding sources of Kissling's "Catholic" group.
"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued statements challenging the right of Catholics for a Free Choice to call itself Catholic. Critics dismiss Ms. Kissling's organization as a mouthpiece for bigger, secular abortion rights groups and a front for anti-Catholic bigotry....Its $3 million budget is largely financed by well-known secular foundations, including the Ford Foundation."