It seems Mgr Jacques Suaudeau's comments on Catholic politicians and abortion is creating a bit of a stir, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny is not happy. Mgr Suaudeau is the scientific director of the Pontifical Academy of Life. But while the media try to make meat of it, the words of the English bobby come to mind: "Nothing to see here". There is nothing new in what has been said, just a reiteration of what the Church teaches, when her pastors are bothered to teach it.
Mgr Sauadeau puts it plainly: no Catholic can support abortion and, despite what Micheal Martin of Fianna Fail is insisting, the bill coming before the Dail is not pro-life, it is anti-life, and no Catholic can in good conscience vote for it. The choice is simple: if the bill goes ahead then Catholic politicians must resign rather than support it. If they do support the bill, then they must know that they have pushed themselves out of the Church by supporting a measure that is repugnant to the Christian faith. This is now a time for politicians to make up their minds and to accept the personal consequences of their decision. There is no room for spiritual schizophrenia or convenient categorisation of one's life.
As regards the Monsignor's reference to the Nuremberg defence - he is correct. However an historical point has to be made here. While the defence of the Nazis had no standing in natural law, it did in positive law - they were only obeying the law of Germany at the time, although they were unjust and immoral laws. However at that time natural law was already been excised from political and legal discourse as positive law began to contradict and breach natural law - abortion for example. The trials soon became an unsavoury task for some because they knew that as things stood and as time progressed, positive law in some countries would require one to breach the natural law, and yet they convicted and executed Nazi leaders and German soldiers for crimes against humanity on the basis of natural law principles.
In a word: western states like Nazi Germany, put more emphasis on positive law than natural law and even if natural law judged certain positive laws to be unjust and immoral, the state still required citizens to obey them regardless of conscience. No wonder prosecutors began to get uncomfortable. For an excellent examination of this I would recommend a viewing of the movie Judgement at Nuremberg with Spencer Tracy - his best role I think.