Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A CRY IS HEARD IN RAMAH


Much has been said about Connecticut and I hesitate to add to the mountain of words. I have watched my own parents bury a son, and in the end, there are no words, only - as C.S. Lewis said in “A Grief Observed” - “the red-hot jab of memory”.

But apart from the incalculable pain suffered by those who lost a child or loved one - a pain no explanation will ever assuage, the ensuing culture war over who or what to blame is at once fascinating, repulsive, and perhaps, instructive.

From the Left, there is the predictable war on guns. From the Right there is the attack on a fallen culture and the media which glorifies it. In the middle there is the debate over what to do about the mentally ill. A bit above the fray, amongst religious leaders there are calls for prayer and homiletic revisits to the ancient problem of pain.

Personally, I was tempted to blame the wicked incident on our nation’s mad embrace of the Culture of Death, and initially summed up the shooting with Mother Teresa’s biting condemnation: “If abortion isn’t wrong, nothing is.”

And of course, that’s true. In a nation which chops up children in the womb at the rate of 4000 a day, what’s the big deal over twenty more - other than the fact that they were apparently wanted and could audibly cry as they died?

But abortion is not unique to our time and neither is child slaughter. This past week, only a few days distant from Christmas, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Innocents and were reminded that children were the first martyrs, and parents, from whose arms they were ripped, have always suffered loss like no other.

The response to the massacre at Sandy Hook from many Catholics was uniquely colored by the fact that the horrific news was revealed as the Church prepared for Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, a fact which made for many attempts to liturgically contextualize the tragedy.

My own thought was less about how to reconcile Connecticut with Gaudete, and more about how profoundly the shooting anticipated the Feast of the Holy Innocents wherein we once again hear the Jeremiah-an lament: “A cry is heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”

Meanwhile, in the news, the battle raged: gun control, mental illness, the desensitizing impact of relentless media violence, the shooter’s broken home, survivalist mother, and absent father, the need for better school security and greater community vigilance, and so on.

There is much to say about each of these, but in the midst of a lemming-like rush to “get the government to do something”, we need remind ourselves that the greatest threat to human life is not madmen, but sane men. In the 20th century, “death by government” (democide), surpassed war as the number one cause of non-natural death.

There are the usual suspects: Hitler (10 million), Stalin (62 million), Chang Kai-shek and Mao (50 million). But there are also 204 other documented cases in the 20th century of genocide, politicide, massacres, extrajudicial executions, and other forms of systematic democidal murder perpetrated by state and quasi-state regimes upon their own peoples.

It is important to recall that each of these monsters began, not as monsters, but as social reformers, as promisers of jobs and a “chicken in every pot”: the Thousand Year Reich (Hitler), the Five Year Plan (Stalin), and the Cultural Revolution (Mao).

Their eventual purges were not motivated by the bloodlust of madmen, but, like Herod, by seemingly sane political policies which necessitated the elimination of opposition and undesirables as an inevitable step in the march to their imagined utopias.

It is also important to recall that prior to the mechanized slaughter of its own citizenry, each seemingly sane government instituted a seemingly sane policy to disarm its citizens, and for good reason. As Mao said: “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

One would think that with the brazen attack on the First Amendment by our current government, religious leaders would be wary of ceding even more constitutional ground by caving on the Second. However, the USCCB, in joining the clamor for gun control, has done exactly that.

But gun control aside, there is the more ominous question of the wisdom of granting ever more power to a government which has already shown that it is willing to crush religious freedom and rule by diktat.

Before inviting more governmental control of guns, health care, or anything else, the USCCB, and religious leaders in general, may want to recall that increasingly centralized and empowered governments eventually turn on their own people, beginning with religious leaders.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BUT WHAT OF US CATHOLICS...?


Most of us are aware that the word “Christmas” is a contraction of the words “Christ’s Mass”. But it wasn’t until I read “Kristen Lavransdatter” that I became more aware of its origins and historical usage. I’ll get to that in a minute because you’re probably wondering who or what is “Kristen Lavransdatter”.

I wish I could tell you the whole story but you’re better off with the book. “Kristen” is a trilogy of historical novels set in newly-Christianized Scandavia in the Middle Ages. Its Norwegian author, Sigrid Undset, received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928, with “Kristen” being part of the body of work that earned her that award.

Undset was a solid atheist when she began writing “Kristen”, but converted to Catholicism soon after its completion. Upon reading the book, one can easily see how the author’s attention to detail in recreating a newly-Catholic Scandanvia of the 12th century probably factored into her falling in love with Catholicism, a faith she later warmly embraced and sharply defended.

One of those details was how Christians of the Middle Ages marked time by the feast days of the saints. Like today, we honor the saints with a Mass in their name, but rather than say the “Feast of St. Michael” or whoever the saint of the day was, Christians of the Middle Ages (at least in many places - mostly in northern Europe) would refer to the day as “St. Michael’s Mass”.

In the colloquial, this would be contracted to “Michaelmas”, “Andrewmas”, “Bartholomewmas”, etc., and “Christmas”. But in addition to naming the day for the saint, Christians of that time and place would also refer to those days to relate the other days such as “three days before Michaelmas”, or “two days after Andrewmas.”

It’s fascinating to imagine how Christians once lived in a world so imbued with an awareness of the faith that they marked ordinary life in terms of liturgical time. Of course within the Church we still do, but Christmas is pretty much the only day in secular life by which we still mark time, and usually only in terms of “shopping days until”.

Today one often hears the slogan “Keep Christ in Christmas”. It has become a mantra for Christians fighting the creeping secularism that has usurped the sacred season: nativity scenes are banned - or at least forced to co-exist with winter solstice displays, and everything and anything “Christmas” is increasingly replaced with “holiday”, etc.

However, perhaps one of the reasons why we are losing the Christmas culture-war is because we can’t keep “Christ in Christmas” without keeping the “mas” in as well. And as we know, most Christians - other than Catholics - long ago dropped the “mas”, not just from “Christ’s Mass”, but from worship of God altogether.

But before we Catholics get too righteous about that, consider that a recent Georgetown CARA poll reported that only 22% of people (in the U.S.) who identify themselves as Catholics attend Mass “regularly” with “regularly” defined as “at least once a month”!

This is ground we’ve covered before in this column, but let’s review. Because God is God, he is to be worshipped. And the Mass is the supreme act of worship. This is so because Jesus himself commanded us to DO THIS. And the THIS, the making of Jesus present on the altar - body, blood, soul, and divinity - only happens at the Catholic Mass. It does not happen anywhere else.

Anything else is not worship, at least not the worship that God commands. It might be prayer, it might be praise, but it is not worship. It might be fulfilling, friendly, wonderful, joyful, spiritual, and uplifting, but it is not worship.

This is why we lie to ourselves when we say “Keep Christ in Christmas” and don’t go to Mass where he is once again enfleshed through the words and action of his priests. In the Mass, every Mass, Christ comes in the flesh to the world as he did in the manger.

To not go to Mass - where he truly is - on the very day when we celebrate the coming in history of the WORD MADE FLESH is....well, that’s why we are losing. No Mass. No Christ. Then no Christ’s Mass.

Non-Catholic Christians, who today are centuries away from the initial protestant ruptures which demolished the Mass as the summit of worship, and who may be genuinely unaware of its significance, may, by the mercy of God, be held less culpable for their absenteeism at the Table of the Lord.

But what of us Catholics, who, by virtue of our baptism and our path to him through the sacraments, have everything placed before us? Our place is set, the invitation issued. God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - awaits....and waits.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

STATISTICALLY, CONDOMS DON'T ADD UP TO SAFE SEX

My letter to the editor, printed in the Voice of the People section of the Pacific Daily News, December 18, 2012, criticizing the promotion of condom use as "safe sex" and suggesting legal liability for condom promoters based on statistics from both the National Institute of Health and the FDA.

The letter, once printed, is the property of the Pacific Daily News and cannot be reprinted on this blog. Click here to go to the PDN online and also make comments, or click here to see a PDF copy of the letter.

Here are the links to the references in the letter:

National Institute of Health
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services (2001-07-20). "Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention" (PDF). Hyatt Dulles Airport, Herndon, Virginia. pp. 13–15. Retrieved 2010-09-22.

FDA
Birth Control Guide: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/WomensHealthTopics/ucm117971.htm

"other studies"
^ Cayley, W.E. & Davis-Beaty, K. (2007). "Condom effectiveness in reducing heterosexual HIV transmission". In Weller, Susan C. Effectiveness of Condoms in Reducing Heterosexual Transmission of HIV (Review). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd..doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003255.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

THE RISE OF THE ENTREPRENEURIAL VOCATION


Every year, as we near Christmas, there is the usual parade of commentaries, sermons, articles, and general talk lamenting the season’s lapse into consumerism, materialism, capitalism, and whatever other ism happens to be handy.

Thus it was with mild delight that I read last week, in this publication, an article entitled “Is Capitalism Catholic?”, featuring the work of Father Robert Sirico and his Acton Institute - a research organization dedicated to the study of free-market economics informed by faith and morals.

To find anyone extolling the virtues of the free-market is rare these days, but finding a Catholic priest doing so is even rarer. Yet, Sirico does and has done so since 1990 when he first felt the unique call to an apostolate championing the virtues of free enterprise.

I am familiar with Sirico’s work and even visited his Acton Institute in the late 90’s not long after I made my career transition from teaching to the business world, a move necessitated by the need to provide for an ever-growing family.

I found Sirico’s insights helpful as I made that transition. Entrepreneurship as a vocation receives very little encouragement in the contemporary Catholic world, and more often than not, is viewed with suspicion. At best, for-profit enterprises are tolerated, but even that seems sometimes proportionate to their level of charitable giving.

This is where Sirico, especially as a Catholic, and even more-so as a Catholic priest, blazes a new trail. Whereas most of what is said relative to religion and economics is aimed at prescribing moral boundaries for marketplace activities, Sirico positions business as a “calling” (and thus a path to holiness), and the free-market as a potential moral agent.

For some, mixing words like free-market, moral agent, business, and holiness must sound like blasphemy. I will let Father Sirico make his own defense (Read his book: “Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy”), but I’d like to submit a few supportive thoughts.

First, who’s to say that entrepreneurship is not a calling? Why wouldn’t it be? For generations, making one’s own way as a farmer, blacksmith, carpenter, merchant, etc., in short, “being in business”, was the way most of the world’s people provided for themselves and their families.

Second, the family business - a farm, a bakery, a store, a gas station - played a quiet but integral role in strengthening family bonds. In contrast, the modern “job world” often separates families, subjects spouses to new temptations, and exposes a family’s financial stability to economic winds it can little control.

Third, decisions regarding family size are all too often governed by our income, or at least the amount of control we feel we have over it. Though entrepreneurship is filled with its own set of risks, business owners generally have more control than employees in responding to economic shifts: e.g, the price of wheat is down so a farmer plants corn; real estate sales are slow so a broker moves to property management, etc.

I realize that this all sounds a bit simplistic but for the most part, it’s how many of our parents, and even more-so, our grandparents, lived. In short, “Can we afford another child?” is a question not often posed by previous generations.

Some of this is due to a perceived increase in the cost of living. But Sirico believes that our economic limitations are often self-imposed, and are more due to a “learned rejection” of free-market economics and the whole idea of “business as a calling”.

This “learned rejection” is the result of a business-bashing bias that is common in academia, fashionable in the media, and all too prevalent from the pulpit - a fact which initially prompted Sirico to aim his Acton apostolate primarily at the education of clergy of all persuasions.

Sirico’s focus is easy to understand. Most clergy do not live under the same economic conditions as most of the people to whom they minister. And, almost always, at least for families, economic woes lie at the root of much family strife.

But Sirico’s aim goes beyond merely enabling minsters to better counsel their congregations: he positions entrepreneurship as a vocation to be encouraged and edifies entrepreneurial enterprise - when engaged virtuously - as providing the best potential economic environment for human flourishing.

Given the collapse of the job market we see happening all around us, and the growing need to find an alternate or at least a supplemental means of providing for our families, the discussion is no longer academic. We are fast moving away from a wage and salary based economy to a performance-based model wherein more of us will have to become more entrepreneurial and skilled at selling what we make, grow, or do...or go homeless and hungry.


Read THE ENTREPRENEURIAL VOCATION by Father Rober Sirico


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

THE RETURN OF THE DEVOURER


Published in the U Matuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Hagatna, Guam, on 12/09/12.

By Tim Rohr

Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Grace, Queen of Heaven, Seat of Wisdom.., the Mother of Jesus has many names, some of them simply affectionate titles, others, dogmatically bestowed. But my personal favorite is “Te Coatlaxopeuh”. Here, let’s say it together: “Tay-gwa-tla-shoo-pay.”

It’s my favorite for a couple of reasons. First, it appears to be the only name Mary gives herself (the rest being titles given her by us). And second, it tells us who Mary quintessentially is: “she who crushes the stone serpent”.

According to a 17th century account, while the Virgin was appearing to St. Juan Diego, instructing him to fill his tilma with flowers and present it to the bishop, she was also appearing several miles away to Diego’s uncle, Juan Bernardino, who lay sick with a deadly fever.

Having cured Bernardino, the Virgin instructed him to present himself to the bishop and recount the manner of his cure. She also directed that she should be named “Cenquizca Ichpochtzintli Santa MarĂ­a de Guadalupe” (The Ever-Virgin, Holy Mary of Guadalupe). At least that’s what the Spanish Franciscan, Juan Zumarraga, thought he heard from Bernardino, who spoke Nahautl, the Aztec tongue.

At the time (1531), Guadalupe, a village in Spain, was the site of a well-known Marian shrine and was known to Zumarraga. Some speculate that the Virgin may have allowed Zumarraga to hear the familiar “de Guadalupe” in place of the phonetically similar “Te Coatlaxopeuh” in order that her appearance be given immediate credence, which it was.

By 1666, some began to question the “de Guadalupe” part of the title, but it would not be until 1895 before an intensive study finally concluded that what Bernardino had said was not “de Guadalupe”, but “Te Coatlaxopeuh”.

It’s tempting to speculate that the Virgin intended the confusion. While “de Guadalupe” facilitated the acceptance of her appearance by the Spanish clergy and invigorated their Mexican apostolate, “Te Coatlaxopeuh”, (she who crushes the stone serpent) as the Aztecs heard it, was apocalyptic, and had immediate import.

For the Aztecs, the “stone serpent”, was monstrously real. He was “Quetzalcoatl the Devourer”, the Aztec god who feasted regularly upon still-beating hearts torn from the chests of tens of thousands of living human beings by Aztec priests.

And crush him, she did. Within a few years of her appearance, over eight million mexicans converted to Christianity, the largest single conversion event in history; and Quetzalcoatl was no more.

The name, of course, recalls the first mention of Mary in Scripture, the Woman of Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman and thy seed and her seed. And she will crush thy head while you lie in wait for her heel.”

The passage is a fantastic depiction of the final victory of heaven over hell, and it is an image that has been repeated countless times in every possible art form: Mary standing on the world with Satan crushed beneath her feet.

It is an image that holds in it the promise of our salvation and which has drawn two millennia of her children to “flee to her protection, implore her help, and seek her intercession” in our personal battles against the gates of hell.

Protestants have never been comfortable with this image and their bibles have long since retranslated Genesis 3:15 to read “he will crush (or bruise)” rather than “she”.  

Of course, the “he” is Jesus, and, for Catholics, the primary role of Jesus has never been in doubt. But the Catholic Church has always held that Mary’s role in salvation was much more than just a bodily conduit for the Savior, which is why we have dogmatically protected her with titles such as “Mother of God”, “Immaculate Conception”, and “Perpetual Virgin”.

But again, those are titles we have given her, and “Te Coatlaxopeuh” is what she has given herself. It can even be said that the Church sealed this title in proclaiming the Immaculate Conception wherein the “she will crush thy head” of Genesis 3:15 plays a central role in the definition of the dogma.

However, modern Catholic bible translations no longer say “she will crush thy head”, but, like protestant bibles, now say “he”; and Mary is relegated to a tamer role. There are scholarly explanations for the change. But meanwhile, in the scriptural absence of Mary as “serpent crusher”, Quetzalcoatl the Devourer has ravenously returned.

And whereas he once feasted on thousands of human hearts ripped from living chests, he now devours millions of living infants ripped from warm wombs, and drinks to intoxication the rivers of blood which flow from our abortuaries and the other altars of slaughter erected in homage to the gods of the Culture of Death.

Santa Maria Te Coatlaxopeuh, Protectress of Unborn Children, pray for us.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

OLD MASS, NEW MASS


Printed in the U Matuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Agana on 12/2/12.

Allow me to stray a bit this week into an internal Catholic Church matter which I feel could use some clarification: the return of the “Old Mass”, or more specifically some misunderstandings wrought by its return. By “Old Mass” I mean the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), now formally labeled the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The restoration of the TLM began in 1984 when John Paul II first issued an indult, a special permission, for its usage. In 1988, the Pope again addressed the TLM and appealed for a wider and more generous usage. In 2007, Pope Benedict in the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, went beyond the indult, declaring that the TLM  had “never been abrogated” and its celebration needed no indult.

In an accompanying letter to the world’s bishops, the Pope affirmed that there was “no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal” (the TLM and the Mass of Paul VI - the “New Mass”), and that “what earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too”. He also called on the bishops to see to it that the TLM, as one of the “riches which have developed through the Church’s faith and prayer”, be given its “proper place”.

All of this is to say that the Pope has declared both forms of the Mass to be equally valid and sacred and one is not to be considered superior to the other. So on to the misunderstandings.

It is not uncommon for those who find the TLM attractive to soon find themselves propagating it with a “born again” zeal. This is particularly true among the youth which is a fast growing demographic at this Mass.

Why the youth find the “Old Mass” new is a matter for another column. The issue we wish to address here is that advocates of the TLM, young or old, should not and cannot speak ill of the “New Mass” (though questioning innovations not prescribed by the Liturgical books is never off-limits).

However, most of the “speaking ill” comes from the other direction in a rather constant chorus of criticisms of the TLM, sometimes from those in high places. Those criticisms consistently center on the two elements of the TLM which most distinguish it from the New Mass: the use of Latin and the “ad orientem” position of the priest, or as critics put it, the priest’s “back to the people”.

We are told that previous generations of Catholics “didn’t get anything out of it” because they didn’t understand Latin, and the priest’s “back to the people” is impugned as a posture of ignorance.

First, let us examine these criticisms on their face. To make either of these accusations is to say that for the better part of 2000 years the infallible Church of God had it WRONG. This a very serious matter even if it is said in jest. But in fact it is normally not said in jest. It is normally said superciliously and often by people who should know better.

Pope Benedict has reaffirmed the sacrality of the TLM, and that includes both the rules governing the actions of the celebrant (rubrics) and the venerable language of its celebration. An attack on either is an attack on the sacred. We may prefer the Mass in the vernacular. We may prefer the priest facing the people. But we don’t get to belittle and impugn the language and rubrics of the ancient Mass. For what was “sacred then is sacred now.”

But beyond that, one does wonder why so many docilely accept these criticisms when there is enormous evidence to the contrary. On Guam, long before the priest turned around and spoke in Chamorro or English, the “Old Mass” was the source of a profound faith, a faith which saw generations of Chamorros through innumerable trials and the incalculable horrors of a World War, and left their faith stronger still!

To accept that our parents or grandparents didn’t get anything out of the “Old Mass” because the priest had his “back to the people” and said the Mass in Latin is an insult to their memory and dangerously doubtful of the power of the Holy Spirit who “blow(s) where it wills” (Jn 3:8)

Speaking only empirically, it is in fact SINCE the celebrant has turned around and the Mass said in local languages that the pews have emptied, the faith has waned, and Catholics have exited, not entered, the “door of faith”.

In fact, it is due to this recent physical, spiritual, and moral exodus from the one, true Church, that the Pope has declared a Year of Faith in the hopes of inspiring a return. And it is this same Pope who has called for the restoration of the ancient Mass. Maybe there’s a connection.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

RECANT, REPENT, AND RETURN

Printed in the U Matuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam

The Left is all aflutter with the news that on November 6 three states voted to legalize same-sex marriage in popular referendums. The victories are significant because the legalization of same-sex marriage had heretofore been defeated at the ballot box and had only gained ground through the courts and state legislatures.


In response, the Vatican immediately vowed to step up its fight against same-sex marriage and evangelical pastors said the same. The chairman of the USCCB subcommittee on marriage said “it was a sad day for marriage” and urged Catholics “not to give up.”

While we may not “give up”, the reality is that the nation’s march towards same-sex marriage is growing stronger and traditional marriage is fast becoming nothing more than that: a tradition.

So, why are we losing? It comes down to this: we have neutered our own argument.

Traditional marriage advocates argue that children are the central purpose of marriage. In the 2010 California case in which a federal judge overturned a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman, the defense argued: “the central purpose of marriage...(is to) promote naturally procreative sexual relationships and to channel them into stable, enduring unions for the sake of producing and raising the next generation.”

The problem is that the argument is hollow, perhaps even a lie. Christians have long since declared technological sovereignty over the womb. At Lambeth in 1930, Anglicans became the first major Christian religion to allow for contraceptive sex, and they were followed by every other major religion, except Catholics, soon thereafter.

The intent was not to remove children as the central purpose of marriage, but the net effect was that it did. Contraception allowed couples to engage in sex at will without the consequences of fertility. The good of the couple became the central purpose of marriage and children became optional.

This is the core argument for same-sex marriage. In the California case, the judge ruled that gender no longer mattered and that marriage was simply a “union of equals”. It’s all about the couple. Children are optional.

In 1965, the Supreme Court joined the Christians in claiming the same by striking down a ban on the sale of contraceptives to married couples in Griswold v Connecticut. One might think it curious that such a ban was still on the books as late as 1965, but it is evidence (whether or not it was enforced) of just how seriously the state, once upon a time, took marriage.

If the state was going to codify, regulate, incentivize, and otherwise protect the institution of marriage, it wanted something in return: children - “the survival of society” as the Supreme Court put it in Skinner v Oklahoma (1944) and Loving v Virginia (1967).

In striking down the ban, the Griswold court joined the bulk of the nation’s Christians in granting a married couple complete sovereignty over their fertility. This sounds rather liberating and quite commonsensical, but bear in mind, this is the exact same argument for same-sex marriage: the couple is sovereign, fertility is optional.

By 1968, the Catholic Church stood alone in defense of “children as the central purpose of marriage”, a position that was hammered home by Paul VI in Humanae Vitae in which the Pope warned married couples that they are “not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life as if it were wholly up to them”.

Coming as it did at a time when the western world was already salivating like Pavlov’s dog with the mere thought of returning to the fleshpots of Egypt, the Pope’s words landed like a baseball bat to the face.

In response, six hundred theologians immediately signed a joint statement of dissent. The NCCB was a bit more careful. Issuing “Human Life in Our Day”, the nation’s bishops reaffirmed the message of Humanae Vitae but laid out a path for dissent, and dissent we did.

Whether or not dissent from Catholic teaching on birth control can be considered legitimate is another matter. For our purposes we are only concerned with the net effect of that dissent, which was the same as that which resulted from the decisions at Lambeth and in Griswold: the couple is primary, children are secondary, and we’ll do whatever the blank we want with our bodies, so stay the blank out of our bedrooms.”

Same-sex marriage advocates have only said the same. And no amount of feel-good videos posted on the USCCB’s ForYourMarriage website is going make up for the fact that we have long since declared ourselves to be arbiters of the womb. Our only recourse is to recant, repent, and return - return to the reason we were made male and female in the first place.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

THE CASE OF SAVITA HALAPPANAVA

In the news is a story about a pregnant Indian woman named Savita Halappanava, who was reported to have died recently in an Irish hospital due to her allegedly being denied an abortion.


This is an important story because Americans have just re-elected the most pro-abortion President in history who ran on a platform of "reproductive rights", a platform which would find major justification if this woman's death is found to be the direct result of having been denied an abortion.

I say "found to be", because the case is still under investigation and the actual account of the events leading up to the woman's death which we have thus far do not show that she asked for an abortion.

This story from the Daily Mail, even though it joins the "abortion" chorus in its headlines, shows - in the  body of the article in which the events are retold - that the woman found that she was miscarrying and that it would be over in a few hours.

Anyone familiar with miscarriages knows that this is normal. She had been examined and re-examined, and if the hospital is to be faulted, it is for not detecting the onset of septicaemia which is alleged to have killed her.

However - and as can be expected, the pro-aborts aren't waiting around for facts, nor would they matter. The narrative is that the Catholic Church killed this woman, since Ireland is a "Catholic country" and abortion is still mostly banned there.

But for those who actually care about facts, here's a few.

1. The Daily Mail story reports that the fetus was determined to be inviable.

2. If that was the case, the Catholic moral principle of "Double Effect" may have applied.

3. The principle states that certain actions which would otherwise be considered evil, are not considered so when the intention is not to commit the evil.



An example of this is the situation presented by a tubal pregnancy which would most likely kill both the  mother and the baby. The removal of the tube will result in the death of the baby but the intention is not to kill the baby. The same is true in certain cases of ovarian cancer in which if left untreated, both mother and baby would die.

Thus, if in fact the fetus was deemed to be inviable -as the story says - then it may have been licit to remove the fetus, as this would have been similar to the situation presented by a tubal pregnancy.

However, all the facts from inside the story simply show that this was a miscarriage gone bad. If the investigation eventually proves that an abortion was denied and the woman's death was a direct result of that decision, then the issue is a matter of the hospital not understanding Catholic moral principles in regards to Double Effect.

This would not be a surprise. Catholics the world over, including doctors, are poorly formed in even the basics of the faith let alone finer points such as this.

In the end, the facts won't matter. The pro-aborts already have their narrative: The Catholic Church killed this woman. Remember: "You will be hated..." - Jesus

Below is a definition of DOUBLE EFFECT as found in the Modern Catholic Dictionary edited by Fr. John Hardon, S. J.

The principle that says it is morally allowable to perform an act that has at least two effects, one good and one bad. It may be used under the following conditions: 


  1. The act to be done must be good in itself or at least morally indifferent; by the act to be done is meant the deed itself taken independently of its consequences; 
  2. The good effect must not be obtained by means of the evil effect; the evil must be only an incidental by-product and not an actual factor in the accomplishment of the good; 
  3. The evil effect must not be intended for itself but only permitted; all bad will must be excluded form the act; 
  4. There must be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect. At least the good and evil effects should be nearly equivalent. All four conditions must be fulfilled. If any one of them is not satisfied, the act is morally wrong.

An example of the lawful use of the double effect would be the commander of a submarine in wartime who torpedoes an armed merchant vessel of the enemy, although he foresees that several innocent children on board will be killed. All four required conditions are fulfilled: 

  1. He intends merely to lessen the power of the enemy by destroying an armed merchant ship. He does not wish to kill the innocent children; 
  2. His action of torpedoing the ship is not evil in itself;
  3. The evil effect (the death of the children) is not the cause of the good effect (the lessening of the enemy's strength); 
  4. There is sufficient reason for permitting the evil effect to follow, and this reason is administering a damaging blow to those who are unjustly attacking his country.
Also see http://www.lifenews.com/2012/11/19/changing-irelands-abortion-law-will-not-save-womens-lives/





Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012: AN ELECTION POST-MORTEM


Darn. I should have put money on this one. Last November I penned a column entitled “Obama’s Catholic Strategy for 2012: Brilliant”. In it I all but predicted Obama would win the 2012 election regardless of who he was up against. I knew Obama would win because Obama knew he would win.

How’s that? It was simple math. Obama knew that in addition to having the black vote, the latino vote, the youth vote, and the Left vote, he had the biggest vote of all: the Catholic vote. Catholics represent 25% of the population and even if Obama could carry half that, it was still more than the entire black vote.

As it turned out Obama did carry exactly half the Catholic vote. True, it was down 4% from 2008 when he carried 54%, but 50% is 50% too much when you consider that Obama obstinately advocated for three major Catholic non-negotiables (abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage), not to mention his much ballyhooed attack on religious freedom.

In my “Obama Strategy” article of a year ago, I ranted loudly that Catholics would once again go for Obama if the bishops did not get off their “religious freedom” kick and start warning Catholics - not about the consequences of losing their religious freedom - but about the consequences of losing their souls, and NOT because Catholics would vote for a man who embraced these non-negotiables, but because they themselves did!

In the column I noted polls showing 40% Catholic support for abortion, 98% for contraception, and 75% for same-sex marriage. Obama simply had to stand with the Catholics to get their vote. It was easy. The fact that he was able to stuff Cardinal Dolan and humiliate the whole U.S. episcopacy was an added bonus, and he got wined and dined at the Al Smith Dinner to boot.

In the end, the election was not about “jobs, jobs, jobs.” That was just a foil, and the Republicans took the bait. Obama knew he had no record to run on when it came to the economy, and he really didn’t try other than to say he needed more time. Obama knew that Americans were not interested in “jobs, jobs, jobs”, but “sex, sex, sex”, and more sex, and sex without consequences.

This is why the contraceptive mandate was the first thing out of the Obamacare box of goodies. It served a double purpose. With the mandate Obama knew he could both neutralize the U.S. bishops and frame opposition to it as a “War on Women”. Neutralizing the Church is always the first step of dictators...and usually long before we realize they are dictators.

Obama knew he could get away with this because he had learned well the moral innards of the Catholic electorate while working for the late Cardinal Bernardin as a community organizer in Chicago (during which he drew a paycheck from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development - thank you for your donations).

Bernardin, as head of the then National Council of Catholic Bishops, had been instrumental in taking any mention of the evils of contraception off the pulpit in the post-Humanae Vitae mayhem. And it was Bernardin who relegated the intrinsic evil of abortion to the moral status of a soup kitchen with his infamous “seamless garment” ideology.

The “seamless garment” thing - in blatant contradiction to Catholic teaching - basically said that all evils are equal and we cannot speak of one evil as greater than another. The “seamless garment” approach to morality essentially gave license to Catholics - already morally softened by two decades of the sexual revolution and doctrinal silence from the pulpit - to contracept, abort, and engage in their sin of choice so long as they cared about immigration reform.

It was a perfect stage for the rise of a man like Obama who knew how to manipulate those who would compromise with evil. This is why at the Democratic National Convention, in which speaker after speaker spoke of the glories of abortion, contraception, and same-sex whatever, Obama sealed the deal and assuaged the hurting consciences of even the most liberal Catholics with a speech by a nun who wiped the floor with Paul Ryan and redefined “pro-life” to mean concern for the uninsured.

The fact that Obama trotted out Cardinal Dolan at the end to give the final prayer was seen - despite Dolan’s few requisite pro-life remarks - as nothing more than an ode to Obama’s big-mindedness and another stamp on his Catholic passport.

Maybe it’s just me, but something tells me that at the Judgment, Christ is not going to ask us about religious freedom.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

COMMENTING ON "THE PROBLEM OF INDUCED ABORTION IN LATIN AMERICA


Ongoing comments on:

THE PROBLEM OF INDUCED ABORTION IN LATIN AMERICA by MARIANO REQUENA B.*, found at http://www.springerlink.com/content/32v4635138162kp8/fulltext.pdf



All penal codes of the Latin American countries condemn the interruption
of pregnancy with penalty of obligatory
imprisonment to the one who carries it
out, as well as to the woman who practices it. Nevertheless, the law is applied
only in those rare occassions in which the
abortion is denounced. The law does not
fulfil its purpose, since it does not succeed
in decreasing the incidence of abortion

How does the author know? Where's the double-blind study? This is just simply stated. The abortion rate in the U.S. pre-Roe and post-Roe would be worth noting here. The author actually undermines here conclusion in the previous statement, noting that the law is rarely enforced. No one doubt that without enforcement laws are useless.





In Latin American the problem is complicated by the illegality of abortion. The
woman knows that this deed has a legal
and social sanction and that, therefore,
she must conceal it, preventing legal punitive actions or sanctions from her social
environment. This is why abortion is
practiced in places and by persons who
deliberately avoid being known.

This is a common belief that has no evidence. In places where abortion is both legal and socially accepted, abortion providers do not normally hang out a shingle advertising "abortion services". Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider purposely and disingenuously calls itself "Planned Parenthood" because it can't say what it really does. Even the most hardened advocates of abortion rarely use the word, having opted for the euphemistic "reproductive rights". So the fact is that legality has nothing to do with the desire not to be known. The fact is that abortion is so heinous, so unjust, so atrocious, that it will always be hidden. It must be.

Friday, November 09, 2012

A COSTLY EMBRACE


In a recent conversation, I observed that if Obama gets re-elected it will be due to the “help of the U.S. Catholic bishops - most of them.” My comment was in response to a statement by an Illinois bishop which reads as follows:

"There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils...I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against...But I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy."

The instruction seems sufficiently stern and consistent with the recent warnings of many of the nation’s bishops. But the word “promotes” as in “promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil” is the wide-open hole big enough to drive an Obama-size bus right through.

Politicians, including Obama, normally don’t actively “promote” abortion. They don’t have to. Abortion is already legal and there are few politicians advocating for it to be MORE legal. They may defend it and fund it (e.g. tax dollars to Planned Parenthood) but this is not seen by the average voter as “promoting” it.

Thus, because Catholics are only advised to not vote for politicians who “promote” abortion, and none actually “promote” it, abortion never makes it on to the moral radar of most Catholic voters, and pro-abortion politicians get elected and re-elected.

By contrast, consider the statement by another Illinois bishop:

"Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin."

This bishop hits it out of the park. The key difference is the word “enable”. Pro-abortion politicians know better than to stray into the abortion controversy and especially do not want to be seen promoting it. As mentioned, they don’t need to. They need only protect it, “enable” it.

They “enable” abortion in a variety of ways: by voting against pro-life legislation, neutering it with amendments, inserting provisions which allow the legislation to be enjoined once it has passed, and meddling with its enforcement - all the while covering for themselves with the “personally pro-life” label.

The troublesome USCCB document Faithful Citizenship uses the muddled instruction of the first bishop, which, in the end, leaves the average Catholic voter to decide which issues he actually cares about, or worse, justifies his penchant for sticking with his party regardless of the issues or principles involved.

In addition to the problem with the word “promote”, the first bishop ultimately torpedoes his entire intent when - after a stern instruction about the consequences of the material participation in evil - he tells his flock to “pray about it”. Sadly, for most contemporary Catholics this means “make up your own mind.”

In short, almost all episcopal instructions of the first type, though they employ words like “intrinsically evil” and “gravely sinful”, in effect, achieve the exact opposite of their intent. After several months of similar episcopal warnings, a September 2012 Pew Poll shows the pro-abortion Obama leading the pro-life Romney among Catholic voters 54-39 percent, up from 49-47 in June.

But from whence comes this timidity, this penchant for self-neutering what might have otherwise been a forthright, unequivocal, and magisterial instruction - like that of the second bishop? Some critics think that Catholic leaders pull back at the brink because they don’t want to endanger their 501(c)3 tax exempt status.

That may be. But Dr. Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College traces this diffidence back to the New Deal when the American Church began to accept the notion that public provision was akin to charity, and tax-code mandated redistribution of wealth became an article of social justice.

Rahe observes that the willing embrace of an increasingly paternalistic state by the American Church would one day come with a price, the loss of religious liberty:

"It did not cross the minds of these prelates that the liberty of conscience which they had grown to cherish is part of a larger package – that the paternalistic state, which recognizes no legitimate limits on its power and scope, that they had embraced, would someday turn on the Church and seek to dictate whom it chose to teach its doctrines and how, more generally, it would conduct its affairs."

That day has come.
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