Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used to say “God will forgive. Man may forgive. But Nature... (pause)...never forgives.”
The alcoholic who stops drinking but not before his liver is damaged knows this; so too does the smoker who quits smoking but has already cut years off his life; the man who changes his diet but not before heart disease, gout, and diabetes have left him crippled; and the fornicator who repents but whose body remains riddled with disease.
As we move through life and age takes its toll, it is remarkable to reflect on how the rules of our faith, the virtues we were told to inculcate, the morals we were commanded to observe, not only are oriented towards eternity, but also towards a better here and now.
The Seven Deadly Sins, gluttony, sloth, wrath, greed, envy, pride, and lust, not only wreak havoc on the soul but the body as well, just as the Cardinal Virtues, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude, not only point us towards heaven, but are also meant to spare us an earthly hell of ill health.
Sadly, many of us, either lacking knowledge of this truth or the will to embrace it, are forced to learn this catechism of sin and virtue in the school of disease and death. True, death comes for us all, but we don’t have to rush to meet it. Mother Church wills, rather, that we “might have life and have it to the full”; thus, its prohibitions on things contrary to nature.
The above mentioned bad-habits are well-known and no one is surprised that Uncle John, who smoked for decades, now cannot move about without a 40 pound tank of oxygen in tow. But we ARE surprised when a woman in mid-life is taken down by cancer. Or perhaps not (surprised), since breast cancer and other female-related cancers are occurring with exponential frequency.
Since 1970, the incidence of breast cancer has increased worldwide by 80%. And in Europe it has outpaced lung cancer as the top killer even though it mostly affects only women. In the U.S., though it still ranks second to lung cancer, the incidence of breast cancer has grown a terrifying 660% since 1973.
Cancer researches know the cause for the epidemic, but carefully hide it from full view. An example of how it is hidden is exemplified in this post by the health editor of a British paper, who, in commenting on the “global epidemic” of breast cancer, says:
“‘Westernisation’ of traditional lifestyles is to blame. A richer diet, smaller families, delayed childbearing and reduced breast-feeding have driven the increase in the West, together with rising obesity and increased alcohol consumption, specialists say. Now these trends are being seen everywhere – with a growing burden of malignant disease in their wake.”
We already know about the risks of a richer diet, obesity and alcohol consumption. What’s new, and rather foreign to this discussion, is the insertion of “smaller families, delayed childbearing and (even) reduced breast-feeding” as drivers of female cancers. Of course, what the author is referring to (but won’t actually say) is The Pill.
In 2005, the U.N.’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, based on recommendations from the World Health Organization, reclassified Hormonal Menopause Therapy (HMT) from “possibly carcinogenic” to “carcinogenic”, in fact a Group One Carcinogen, right up there with asbestos and radium.
The hormones used in HMT, progesterone and estrogen, are the same hormones used in birth control pills, and buried in the report is a reference to the increased risk of cancer by a “common type of birth control pill”. The report admits that The Pill was already known to cause liver cancer, and goes on to conclude that it also “slightly increases the risk of breast and cervical cancer.”
The near doubling of the worldwide rate of breast cancer over the last four decades and it’s six-fold increase in the U.S. and Europe can hardly be considered “slight”, but the U.N., finding itself at odds with its own population control policy which is heavily vested in the global distribution of hormonal contraceptives, is predictably reluctant to tell us the whole truth.
Our Church, however, has never been reluctant to tell us the whole truth. The Catechism calls intentional contraceptive acts “intrinsically evil”. Yet, for over a generation, many Catholics have ignored, ridiculed, impugned, and openly disobeyed this teaching, and - as if to put an exclamation point on their disdain for the Church’s prohibition on contraception - support the president’s “contraceptive mandate” by a large majority.
However, to paraphrase Archbishop Sheen, while we might thumb our noses at God and the magisterial teaching of the Church, in the end, disease and death will get our attention, for “Nature...(pause)...never forgives.”