Light and Darkness: Some thoughts on this Presidential Inauguration Rooted in another Inauguration in 1865

012013Many thoughts move through my mind on this third Monday in January. Just up the street from where I live, the Second Inauguration of President Barack Obama is taking place. Today is also the official celebration of the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And also, later this week, my rectory will be filled to overflowing with priests and seminarians here for the March for life, which takes place on Friday. Yes, so many thoughts: thoughts of civil rights and racial justice, thoughts of the unborn, and their right to life, thoughts of a president, and this nation. So many thoughts.

Somehow, my mind drifts back to 1865, to the 2nd Inaugural Address of President. Abraham Lincoln. Many things also came together on that day: the nation was reeling in the aftermath of the terrible war that killed almost 600,000 soldiers and others. (If that number were projected forward percentage-wise to today’s population, it would mean that over 6 million people in this country would have lost their lives).

President Lincoln, likely out of grief and surely out of reverence, kept his remarks brief that March day. He too thought of life, and he also thought of racial justice, and the connection of a great moral issue to the health of this nation.

Surely he, and the whole nation, was relieved that the war was ending, but President. Lincoln also reflected, in this brief Second Inaugural Address, on the Justice of God, and how that justice cannot ultimately stay silent in the face of grave evil. Lincoln ponders in the address, if the just concluded war was not somehow an exercise of God’s justice: God allowing the war as a way calling the question of the grave evil of slavery, and by extension, calling us to greater racial justice.

Looking ahead, Lincoln also seems to warn that our sufferings may not be ended if we failed to act with justice in the critical days of reconstruction that lay ahead.

I would like to present excerpts from President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and then apply some of it to us on this third Monday in January 2013, a day so filled with meaning regarding race, and life, and the fundamental question: “Whither our Nation?” Here are some excerpts:

[Slavery] constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war…[No one] expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained….Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but….The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” [Matt 18:7].

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses….He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” [Ps 19:9]

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. [Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865]

Yes, a grave injustice had bewitched this land, Slavery and racial injustice. And Lincoln saw something of the justice of God in allowing a terrible punishment to grip this nation, a punishment meant to sober us and avenge the injustice that long awaited God’s decisive action.

This is not to sanction every act of the North in the Civil War, only to say that injustice sets loose evil, and that, at some point, God delivers us to our collective iniquity and that we who would sow in the wind, must now reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). For every drop of blood exacted by the slave holder’s wrath, for every dollar gain through injustice, now the blood would be required back from an unjust nation, and from a nation that had profited on injustice every dollar would be paid back.

That was 1865. What of 2013? The blood of injustice still flows, especially through abortion. And many of the same arguments used for slavery are now used for abortion: personhood, privacy, personally opposed but unwilling to infringe on others rights (?!) to abort, etc. (More on that HERE) The blood has reached epic proportions and cries to heaven for vengeance, (Gen 4:10; Rev 6:10ff). God’s justice cannot remain forever silent.

It is a great irony that today a President is re-inaugurated whose presidency speaks to us of racial healing and justice, a theme that so occupied the mind of President Lincoln and the nation in 1865. And yet, that same president stands wholly in support of an equally and arguably worse injustice, a bloodshed whose numbers (in gallons of blood)  far outweigh the grave injustice of Slavery and Jim Crow.

As of today when I write this, 54,559,615 children have been unjustly murdered in this land by abortion. And it is not just the mothers who have done this that are culpable. It is this nation, collectively that is guilty. It is those who have sought abortion, those who perform them, those who pressure women to have them, those who vote to uphold this evil as a “right.” It is those who remain silent and those who vote for those who uphold this grave evil, or downplay its horrific reality. It is those who fail to provide reasonable alternatives and resources for women in crisis. It is those who live unchastely and fail to reproach those in their family members who live that way.

Yes, to a large extent few of us can fail to escape the fact that we have contributed to, even indulged in an unchaste, unjust and and unholy culture that leads to the death of millions every year. Abortion results largely from unchastity and the refusal of Americans, collectively to accept the consequences of our sin.

The President who stands before us today is largely a product of our culture. It is easy to demonize him. He is, in fact, the most virulent advocate of abortion who has ever occupied the Oval Office. So extreme is he in this view that many members of his own party cannot stand with him in this matter. He supported partial birth abortion, a procedure so grim that even “pro-choice” Americans are largely aghast. He also voted against legislation that children “born alive” i.e. children who survive the attempt to kill them in abortion, should then be allowed to live. No, said the President in his Senate days, such children who make it out of the womb alive after a “botched” abortion can still be killed thereafter, with impunity. Even most pro-choice Americans find this a bridge too far. Yet our President voted for such measures.

But as I say, he is a product of “us” collectively speaking. It is easy to demonize him, and he is certainly wrong. But blaming, or simply focusing on him, does not let the rest of us off the hook. We will have to collectively pay for our national sin. God’s justice will not remain forever silent.

And so, on this day of Inauguration, many thoughts flood my mind: prayers for a president, gratitude for racial healing, but also the alarming, ironic and paradoxical reality that a President (Mr. Obama) who points to the healing of one sin, but also points to a new and grave injustice.

We are so often selective in our moral assessments. God help our nation. For even as we celebrate a growing victory over injustice (slavery and racism), and it is/was a grave injustice, we tolerate another grave injustice with an even higher death toll.

President Lincoln rightly warned, with the searing drama of an ancient prophet that God would only tolerate injustice for so long. We cannot go on living outside of God’s justice and expect good results. Sooner or later we will encounter the consequences of what we do. Lincoln said that every drop of blood unjustly shed would be repaid, every dollar unjustly earned would be exacted, that we would pay to the full for our injustice. What was true in 1865 is no less true today.

Our only hope is collective and national repentance. Only then can the floodgates of mercy open. But, as our sad history often shows, collective repentance is hard to come by. Too many are on the take, too many profit by sin in a temporary and worldly way. The usual human story is that we are stubborn in our injustice, and only the severe measure of God handing us over to our iniquity has salutary effects.

Would that we could repent, but as for now the scales of justice are steeply tipped against us, our repentance seems unlikely, and the blood of the murdered cries ever louder from the rich soil of this land. God will not remain forever unmoved from that cry for justice.

I realize that it is not possible for me to write these remarks, or for you, dear reader, to read them, outside the prism of politics. But I want to be clear that as a Christian, and an American, I pray for our President (and nation) this day. I ask God’s blessing upon him, and his family. I pray that God will give him strength, and above all, wisdom. I cannot, and do not align myself with some Americans who seem to have a very personal dislike of President Obama, or who demonize him as though he were personally evil. I do not think this of him, nor do I dislike him. As a Catholic, I see it as my duty to pray for him in accord with the words of Scripture:

I [Paul] urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. (1 Tim 2:1-3)

If the early Christians could pray for Nero, I can surely pray for our current leaders.

That said, it is clear that there are a number of positions and policies of our current president is gravely troubling, especially issues related to human life and religious liberty. Let me be clear though, my remarks in this blog should not be seen as directed and one man, President. Obama. My remarks are directed ultimately to us collectively as a nation.

As President Lincoln spoke of his concerns in 1865 for the nation, he did not simply focus his remarks on one man, e.g. Confederate “President” Jefferson Davis, or merely on one segment of the nation, the South. He spoke of a nation, and to a nation and summoned us to remember that we must act justly, and that if we chose to live outside of God’s justice, the toll, already so high, could become far worse.

And what of us today? Today we inaugurate for a Second Term an African-American President and we rightfully celebrate significant progress in racial justice. And yet, another, grave, and newer injustice has entered this land, the shedding of vast amounts of innocent blood in abortion. And this nation continues to legally sanction that very killing of the innocent as a “right.” This cannot stand.

I speak to day of the President only to pray for him and for his conversion in terms of the sacredness of human life, the proper understanding of Marriage and sexuality, and the proper respect for Religious Liberty. But in praying for him, I pray also for this nation, so soaked in blood. May we repent before it is too late, before the dam of God’s mercy breaks and we are drowned by the very innocent blood we have individually and collectively shed.

God bless our President and the Congress, and Go bless the United States of America.

Ancient Testimonies Against Abortion

In doing research for an Our Sunday Visitor column (my regular Q and A column), I found it necessary to comb through some of the early Church sources regarding the teaching against abortion. I thought it might be helpful here, by way of a resource, to post some of those teachings here. While I have seen a quote here and there, I was actually quite pleased to find several quotes I had not seen or read before on the question of abortion and to assemble in one place a good number of quotes.

I also ask your help in adding to the list I have assembled here. For the sake of some scope I have limited the quotes to generally no later than the 4th Century. While you can feel free to add from later periods as well, I find the early centuries to be of particular value, due to their antiquity.

As with many quotes from the ancient world, some of the quotes herein are perhaps quite harsh, and some may be critiqued at their focus essentially on the women who procure abortion, with little mention of the men involved. In our own time the Church is more careful to articulate and understand that abortion often occurs when women are under duress, or on account of family crisis, poverty and other social factors. Hence, we who speak against abortion must be ready and able, as I think the Church admirably is, to assist women and families in crisis to give birth. Yet the churchmen who are quoted below were men of their times, and, as my father was often heard to say of the “old days” Things were tough all over.

Whatever the tone, the teaching is not at all unclear, and for this we can be grateful.

A couple of years ago a former Speaker of the House, whose name need not be mentioned here at all, showed herself an amateur theologian lacking in even basic knowledge by claiming (on what she called Jesuitical authority) that the Church teaching on abortion was no older than the 1950s. The usually cautious American Bishops lost no time in issuing vigorous correction. And rightly so, of course, as quotes like these will show.

Here then are some of the quotes:

The Didache (“The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) ca 110 AD. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion. (2:2)…The Way of Death is filled with people who are…murderers of children and abortionists of God’s creatures. (5:1-2)

Letter of Barnabas, circa 125: You shall not kill either the fetus by abortion or the new born

Athenagoras the Athenian (To Marcus Aurelius), ca 150 AD: “We say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion…, [For we] regard the very fœtus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care… (# 35).

Clement of Alexandria: (circa 150 – 215 AD) Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature, if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring, born according to the designs of divine providence; for these women who, if order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their own human feelings. Paedagogus, 2

Tertullian circa 160-240 AD: For us, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter when you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one: you have the fruit already in the seed. Apology 9:6

Tertullian (circa 160 – 240 AD): …we are not permitted, since murder has been prohibited to us once and for all, even to destroy …the fetus in the womb. It makes no difference whether one destroys a life that has already been born or one that is in the process of birth. Apology (9:7-8)

Tertullian circa 160-240 AD: [John the Baptist and Jesus] were both alive while still in the womb. Elizabeth rejoiced as the infant leaped in her womb; Mary glorifies the Lord because Christ within inspired her. Each mother recognizes her child and is known by her child who is alive, being not merely souls but also spirits. De Aninta 26:4

Hippolytus (circa 170-236 AD): Whence certain women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility and to gird themselves round, so as to expel what was conceived on account of their not wanting to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time. From “Refutation of all Heresies” 9:7

Minucius Felix (180 – 225 AD): Some women take medicines to destroy the germ of future life in their own bodies. They commit infanticide before they have given birth to the infant (Octavious (30, 2))

St. Basil the Great (330 – 379 AD): The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance. Letter 188:2

St. Ambrose: (339 to 397 AD) The poor expose their children, the rich kill the fruit of their own bodies in the womb, lest their property be divided up, and they destroy their own children in the womb with murderous poisons. and before life has been passed on, it is annihilated. Hexaemeron”, (5, 18, 58)

St. John Chrysostom (circa 340 – 407 AD): Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? Where there are many efforts at abortion? Where there is murder before the birth? For you do not even let the harlot remain a mere harlot, but make her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no real name to give it, since it does not destroy the thing born but prevents its being born. Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? Homily 24 on Romans

St. Jerome (circa 342-420 AD): I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the church, their mother….Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder. Letter 22:13

The Synod of Elvira, 306 AD: If a woman becomes pregnant by committing adultery, while her husband is absent, and after the act she destroys the child, it is proper to keep her from communion until death, because she has doubled her crime. Canon 63.

The Synod of Ancyra, 314 AD, Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees. (Canon 21).

Council of Trullo (692 AD): Those who give drugs for procuring abortion, and those who receive poisons to kill the fœtus, are subjected to the penalty of murder. (Canon 91)

Ancient Testimonies against abortion. Please add to this list.

Nancy Pelosi – A Strange little Video on Public Policy, Scripture and Abortion

The video below is almost two years old and I recall hearing something of this story then, but I have never seen the full video. I remember only hearing a grainy recording and so it made less impact. But in this video two statements by Mrs. Pelosi are juxtaposed and the impact is stronger than the story I heard back then.

In the first half of the video, Minority Leader of the House, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi goes on at some length about the Word becoming flesh. She sort of goes into preacher mode and I get the feeling that she is suddenly quite uncomfortable with where she finds herself. Suddenly a woman who is not unaccustomed to public speaking becomes slow and halting and rather grasping for words. But the gist of her comment is this:

When people ask me about my word, I say it is the Word. The Word became flesh and that is beautiful. And we need to give voice the Word in terms of Public Policy.

She goes so far as to say that we are going to answer to God for whether we do this or not.

OK, I am with you Mrs. Pelosi. The Scriptures should surely inform public policy. But I want to add immediately that I’d like to see the unabridged version of Scripture used. Care for the poor, the immigrant, the prisoner, the disadvantaged, all to be sure. But also the unborn. And while we’re at it, there are a few teachings about homosexual activity, and the sacredness of traditional marriage, and more than a few comeuppances to people in power. We could go on but you get the point.

But wowsa! Talk about setting yourself up for a doozy of a followup question. The Word made Flesh…are you really sure you want to go down that road with your pro-abortion stance?

Perhaps this explains her rather sudden stammering and searching for words. You can almost see the gears turning in her head, and the discomfort on her face.

Sure enough the question comes later. In the second half of the video the reporter asks in effect,

Mrs. Pelosi at a community conference, you have remarked how the Word becoming flesh should be reflected public policy. Can you state when the Word became flesh? At the annunciation or at the birth?

Mrs. Pelosi’s answer indicates a sudden shift away from the notion that faith should be discussed in public or affect public policy. She consigns any such discussion to the closed doors of a Church. So much for the Word becoming flesh being reflected in public policy. Her exact quote is:

Whatever it [i.e. the Word made Flesh] was, we bow our heads when we talk about it in Church and that’s where I’d like to talk about that.

Hmm… So in one public setting, at a community conference,  she gets to wax eloquent about the Word made flesh and even with the fire of preacher warns us of judgment day, if we don’t abide by the vision. In the another public setting she dismisses it as a topic unfit for a setting outside the Church.

A word about this video. I do not personally care for the subtext “Pelosi eats her words in xx Seconds.” In the first place, though I vigorously disagree with Mrs. Pelosi on most things, I consider it disrespectful to refer to public officials merely by their last name. This is done a lot today even at the presidential level, Bush this…. Obama that. Public officials, even those with whom we have vigorous disagreement, should be called either by their title, their full name or by the prefix Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

Further I don’t know if eating her words is an appropriate expression. It is too gleeful for a tragic situation. Mrs. Pelosi is tragically misled on the question of abortion and other matters of the faith. To the degree that she has voted to fund abortion or advocated for such funding she is guilty of at least material cooperation in abortion. Gleeful attitudes, while understandable for those who have been in the fight so long, are not the right attitude. Prayerful hope that the reporter’s question may have sparked her conscience is better, and prayer for a conversion of mind and heart in this matter is best.

With that in mind, here is the video. I beg your pardon if this is old news for you. But I missed it, and thus suspect others did too.

By the way, in the comments let’s prescind from the question of denial of communion to pro-abortion Pols. It’s above our pay grade and there’s nothing we can do about it. Leave it to the bishops, and/or send your remarks directly to them. I am only a pope…err… a Msgr. Pope.

Reaping the Whirlwind: A Reflection on the Global War Against Baby Girls and Its Social Implications

From the “God save us from ourselves” file comes a chilling study entitled The Global War Against Baby Girls by Nicholas Eberstadt. It is published in the New Atlantis. It describes the ever-widening trend of sex-selected abortion, a trend which now effects up to forty percent of the world’s population.  The article is steeped in numbers (enough to make you cross-eyed) and well researched. But it is so sad to read and and its descriptions are a testimony to human folly and sinfulness. We have sown in the wind and are reaping the whirlwind.

It is a very lengthy article and I can present only a small portion here. As usual the original text of Mr. Eberstadt is in bold black italics, and my remarks are in normal red text:

Over the past three decades the world has come to witness an ominous and entirely new form of gender discrimination: sex-selective feticide, implemented through the practice of surgical abortion with the assistance of information gained through prenatal gender determination technology. All around the world, the victims of this new practice are overwhelmingly female—in fact, almost universally female. The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still- growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe—and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new “missing baby girls” each year. In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.

A pretty good executive summary of the problem. Has anyone heard from women’s rights activists and those who advocate for “women’s healthcare?” Perhaps I have missed some reports of the outcry from them? The report later concludes that this practice declares: women as the disfavored sex in nakedly utilitarian terms, and indeed signaling that their very existence is now conditional and contingent (upon cultural preferences). Again, perhaps I have missed the outcry and the protests, the planeloads of Western Feminists descending upon these nations to protest and the demands for sanctions.

But then again, maybe I have not missed it, since such a thing is “off message” that abortion is wholly a matter of free choice and is an unabridged healthcare right never to be interfered with. Saying that ANY form of abortion should be disallowed would be for them, the first chip in the precious crystal they call abortion. Better to let baby girls die and the female sex be despised by many than lose the “most fundamental right” in women’s “healthcare.” Or so the logic would seem.

One thing I think it is fair to note that the report mentions, most of the nations where this is going on have laws against sex-selected abortion. But they are not enforced.

The modern phenomenon of biologically unnatural increase in the sex ratio at birth (due to sex selected abortion) was first noticed in the 1980s for China, the world’s most populous country. In 1979, China promulgated its “One Child Policy,” a compulsory and at times coercive population-control program that continues to be enforced to this day (albeit with regional and temporal variations in severity). In 1982, China’s national population census—the first to be conducted in nearly two decades—reported a disturbing demographic anomaly [of as high as 120 males per 100 females born].

The pernicious and evil one-child policy of China also commands a great deal of silence from the decadent. For all the talk here in the West about “the government staying out of my bedroom” there is a looking the other way when it comes to China. Here too the silence may well emerge from our (wrongful) western notion that the world is overpopulated. While not approving of the method necessarily, I suspect many are pleased that there are, as a result, fewer humans on the planet. Indeed, that is an essential goal of the culture of death, fewer people.

Another lesson here is that unrepented sin leads to distortion in the human person and to culture. Hence, the Chinese and others in the far East are sowing in the wind and reaping the whirlwind. Their whole culture is becoming distorted and they are heading for a major crisis as the proper balance of men and women is lost. More on that below.

What is driving the Imbalance?

One commonality to China and the [nearby countries]  is a Confucian cultural heritage, which places an imperative on continuing a family’s lineage through the male heir as a metaphysical key to greater universal harmony and virtue. Confucian heritage [however] is not a unique identifier of societies at risk of mass female feticide. In Southeast Asia, Vietnam—a society with a deep Buddhist tradition—now shows strong indications like China…

[Hence a fuller] explanation for unnaturally high male to female birth rates appear to arise from a collision of three forces: first, local mores that uphold a truly merciless preference for sons; second, low or sub-replacement fertility trends, which [weights] the gender outcome of each birth with extra significance for parents with extreme gender bias; and third, the availability of health services and technologies (easy and affordable abortion and prenatal sex diagnostics) that permit parents to engineer the sex composition of their families—and by extension, of their societies.

And everyone of these factors is rooted in human interference and a rejection of what nature and Nature’s God provide.  The lesson will be clear enough, start messing around and playing God, and rejecting what God provides, and soon enough you’re in a real mess. Thus contraception, the misuse of medical technologies and a playing God by choosing who will live and who will die, and who is fit and who is not,  all lead to a very dark place.

So what are the social implications

The consequences of medically abetted mass feticide are far-reaching and manifestly adverse.

  1. Women have less dignity – In populations with unnaturally skewed [ratios], the very fact that many thousands—or in some cases, millions—of prospective girls and young women have been deliberately eliminated simply because they would have been female establishes a new social reality that inescapably colors the whole realm of human relationships, redefining the role of women as the disfavored sex in nakedly utilitarian terms, and indeed signaling that their very existence is now conditional and contingent.
  2. Lots of unmarried men spells trouble Moreover, enduring and extreme male to female imbalances set the demographic stage for an incipient “marriage squeeze” in affected populations, with notably reduced pools of potential future brides. China will transform from a country where, as of 2000, nearly all males (about 96 percent) had been married by their early 40s, to one in which nearly a quarter (23 percent) are projected to be never married as of 2040. Such a transformation augurs ill in a number of respects. For one thing, unmarried men appear to suffer greater health risks than their married counterparts….. Second, In a low-income society lacking sturdy and reliable national pension guarantees for the elderly, a steep rise in the proportion of unmarried and involuntarily childless men begs the question of old-age support for that rising cohort.
  3. Forced Prostitution, kidnapping and trafficking of women – Third, Economists such as Gary Becker and Judge Richard Posner have hypothesized that mass feticide, in making women scarce, will only increase their “value”—but in settings where the legal and personal rights of the individual are not secure and inviolable, the “rising value of women” can have perverse and unexpected consequences, including increased demand for prostitution and an upsurge in the kidnapping and trafficking of women (as is now being witnessed in some women-scarce areas in Asia)
  4. More problems with unmarried men –  Finally, there is the speculative question of the social impact of a sudden addition of a large cohort of young “excess males” to populations…. [D]epending on a given country’s cultural and institutional capabilities for coping with this challenge, such trends could quite conceivably lead to increased crime, violence, and social tensions—or possibly even a greater proclivity for social instability. (For a decidedly pessimistic but studied assessment of these prospects, see Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer’s 2004 book Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population.)

Mr Eberstadt concludes that the only why to end this practice of killing female babies in utero is for Medical and health care professionals—without whose assistance mass female feticide could not occur— to develop a conscience and understand that they have a special obligation to be front and center in ending this evil practice.

Evil is my word, not his, but I know of no better word to describe it. Consider the intersection (or shall we say collision) of murder, pride (for we play God), misogyny (for females are murderously hated in comparison to men), selfishness (for only the right baby is wanted), and government incursion,  and tell me if there is not a better word than evil to describe the practice of sex-selected abortion. It is a tangled web of deep confusion and abuse of power at every level and flows directly from the practice of abortion itself, and the prideful notion that we get to decide who lives and who dies.

I often sense the need to recall in our culture that many women and men feel driven to abortion out of fear and that we must compassionately assist them to find alternatives to abortion. I also work with project Rachael to help in the healing of women and men who have chosen to abort or who have helped to abort. But this sort of abortion (for sex-selection) is harder to understand.

Perhaps there are social pressures in the far East that I do not understand, but from my Western perspective, the use of abortion for sex-selection is most shocking and surely going to lead the Far East and other places it is practiced to real social harm and upheaval. I also have little doubt some use it here in the West as well, though not in numbers vast enough to shift the demographic balance of men and women.

For sowing in the wind, we are sure to reap the whirlwind. Please help us Lord, spare us from our stubbornness and stupidity.  Parce Domine, Parce nos! Deus, miserere!

In this video we hear of the first incursion of sex-selected abortion in this country. He also details how some women in the Far East are often pressured to abort female babies by men and other family members:

Rick Santorum is Right to Raise Concerns About How Amniocentesis is Used. The Disabled Are Being Aborted in Terrifying Numbers.

Candidate Rick Santorum was grilled on Face the Nation by Bob Schieffer on his position that certain forms of pre-natal testing end up as conduits for abortion. In particular, Mr Santorum is concerned about amniocentesis, a test used to screen for fetal chromosomal abnormalities and certain infections. The procedure is not without its dangers. Complications of amniocentesis include miscarriage, respiratory distress at delivery, postural deformities, fetal trauma and rhesus disease. Studies estimate the risk of amniocentesis-related miscarriage at around 1 in 200.

Rick Santorum is right to raise serious concerns about this procedure and the fact that the government is going to force insurers to pay for this. Free amniocentesis means more of it and more of it, frankly, means more abortions.

This does not mean there is absolutely no legitimate use of amniocentesis. Indeed it can be argued that if there is a problem, it is best to know beforehand. However, for one to legitimately have recourse to amniocentesis, it is necessary that they exclude abortion, no matter the results. They must also understand there are risks involved with amniocentesis and, further, that they will likely be pressured to terminate a child with a poor diagnosis.

A hidden but tragic truth in this country is that there is a quiet sort of genocide being committed against the disabled. Mr. Santorum is right in pointing out that the rates of abortion in poor prenatal diagnoses trends as high as 90-100%. Indeed if the test come back “poor,” abortion is almost always recommended.

And, the pressure on such families to abort is often enormous. They are told, “It is the right thing to do” and, “You should not make the child suffer.” Some are even made to feel they are doing something “unethical” by bringing forth such children. There are also time pressures placed on such parents. Doctors often want the decision to terminate, made quickly, within a matter of days.

A life not worth living? There seems to be operative a notion on the part of many in our culture that there is such a thing as a life not worth living. We have stumbled upon the very unusual and tragically ironic concept that death is a form of therapy, that the “treatment” for disabled babies is to kill them. Of course death is not a treatment or a therapy, it cannot be considered a “solution” for the one who loses his or her life. Yet tragically this is often the advice that many parents with a poor pre-natal diagnosis receive, the urgent pressure that they terminate the pregnancy now.

90 % are lost – All this pressure goes a long way to explain that just over 90% of families with a poor pre-natal diagnosis choose to abort. We in the Church cannot remain silent in the face of this. We must prophetically and compassionately reach out to families in such a crisis. Many of them are devastated by the news that their baby may have serious disabilities. Often they descend into shock and are overwhelmed by fear, conflicting feelings and even anger at God, or others. Sometimes the greatest gifts we can give them are time, information, and the framework of faith. Simply considering some of the following may help:

1. They do not have to rush, despite what they are told. Serious life-changing decisions should never have to be made in a 48 to 72 hour time period. Pressure should never be applied to families by medical personnel and the family should consider such pressure a grave injustice.

2. Pre-natal diagnoses are not always right. We often think of Medicine as an exact science. It is not. Data can be misinterpreted and premises can sometimes be wrong. Further, there is a difference between the result of a screening and an actual diagnosis. Screenings can point to potential problems and likelihoods, but are not an actual diagnosis of a problem. Further study is always needed if a screening indicates potential problems. Quite frequently, further tests, after a screening reveal no problem at all.

3. Disabilities are not always as terrible a reality as we, in our “perfect-insistent” world, think. Many people with disabilities live very full lives and are a tremendous gift to their families, the Church and the world. Providing families with further information about disabilities and connecting them with families who have experience in these areas are essential to avoid the catastrophizing that sometimes sets in when an adverse pre-natal diagnosis is given.

4. For those with faith it is essential to connect them with the most basic truths of our Christian faith. The cross is an absurdity to the world. But to those of the Christian faith, the cross brings life and blessings, even despite its pain. Where it not for our crosses, most of us could never be saved. Bringing forth a disabled child will not be easy but God never fails. He can make a way out of no way and do anything, but fail. My own sister was mentally ill and she carried a cross. We too had a share in that cross. But my sister, Mary Anne, brought blessings to our family as well. I don’t know if I’d be a priest today if it were not for her. I am sure I would not be as compassionate and I doubt I could be saved were it not for the important lessons she taught me. I know she brought out strength and mercy, not to mention humility, from all of us in the family. Her cross and ours brought grace, strength and many personal gifts to all of us. Yes, the cross is painful, but it brings life as well. Easter Sunday is not possible without Good Friday. To the world the cross is absurdity but to us who believe it is salvation, it is life, it is our only real hope, it is our truest glory to carry it as Christ did.

5. Disability is not an all-or-nothing thing. Disability exists on a continuum. In some way all of us are disabled. Some of us have very serious weight problems, others diabetes, pressure, heart problems, etc. Some of us are intellectually challenged in certain areas. Some of us struggle with anxiety or depression, addictions, or compulsions. Some experience losses in mobility through an accident or just due to age. All of us have abilities and disabilities. Some of our disabilities are more visible than others, some disabilities are more serious than others. But in most cases we are able to adjust to what disables us and still live reasonably full lives. We may not be able to do all we would like, but life still has blessings for us. And even our weaknesses and disabilities can, and do, bring us blessings by helping to keep us humble. How much disability is too much? Can you really be the judge of that? Can you or I really decide for someone else that their life is not worth living?

6. Life is not usually what it seems. In this world we esteem things like wealth, ability, strength and power. But God is not all that impressed by these sorts of things. God has a special place for the poor and the humble. The Lord has said that many who are last in this life are going to be first in the next (cf Mat 19:30). There is a great reversal coming wherein the mighty are cast down and the lowly are raised up. In this world we may look upon those who suffer disability with a misplaced pity. But understand this: they are going to be the exalted ones in the kingdom of heaven. As we accept the disabled and the needy into our midst we are accepting those who will be the royalty in heaven. We ought to learn to look up to them, beg their prayers and only hope that their coattails may also help us attain to some of the glory they will specially enjoy. They have a dignity that this world may refuse to see but we who believe cannot fail to remember that the last are going to be the first. Life is not always what it seems.

What of those who aborted? We as a Church cannot avoid our responsibility to prophetically declare the dignity and worth of the disabled. More than ever our world needs the Church’s testimony, for it is a startling statistic that 90% of parents choose to abort in cases of a poor pre-natal diagnosis. Even as we prophetically witness to dignity of the disabled and the wrongness of abortion in these cases we must also embrace those who have chosen abortion and now struggle with that choice. We are called to reconcile and bring healing to all who have faced this crisis and fallen. Many were pressured, afraid and felt alone. We offer this embrace through confession, and healing ministries like Project Rachael which offers counseling, spiritual direction, support groups and prayer services. Even as the Church is prophetic in speaking against abortion she must also reconcile those who have fallen under the weight of these heavy issues.

For more information:

  1. National Catholic Partnership on Disability
  2. Project Rachel – Post Abortion Healing
  3. Be Not Afraid – an online outreach to parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis
  4. Parental Partners for Life – Support information & encouragement for carrying to term with an adverse prenatal diagnosis and support for raising your child with special needs after birth

Here is Mr. Santorum’s interview on the topic of amniocentesis. I think he raises very legitimate concerns:

This video was produced by the Office of Special Needs and the Life Issues Department for the Youth Rally and Mass for Life, held at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on January 22, 2010. It shares the story of Maddie, who reminds us of the dignity and joy that can be found in every human life

To March for Life is to Experience Life

If you have ever had the exciting privilege of being in Washington for the Pro-Life March you how true it is that you always leave exhausted, but more alive than you came. The Pro-life March, for a Catholic especially, is really more than just the March, it is a series of activities. In the days immediately before the March there are usually seminars and other focused gatherings around life and bio-ethical issues. Then there is the great Vigil Mass for Life, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the night before the March. The Great Upper Church of the Basilica can comfortably seat about 4,000 people. But the Vigil Mass for Life brings often 8,000 or more. People are standing in the aisles, the side chapels, in every nook and cranny. The Sanctuary around the High Altar is packed with Bishops, priests, deacons, and seminarians from all over the country. Visible in the Church are Religious men and women in consecrated life showing a magnificent display of diversity in their habits. The congregation is filled with men an women and young people of every age group, and every ethnic and racial diversity imaginable. If you want to know how catholic (universal) the Catholic Church really is, just come to the Basilica for the Vigil Mass for Life!

The bigger picture – There are some who want to describe the Church as aging and of declining numbers. Some want to describe the Church as not being able to connect with the young, or with peoples of non-European descent. Some say her clergy and religious are aging. But come to the pro-life vigil Mass and behold the youthful diversity of the Church! And even if you can’t go, watch, as the EWTN cameras pan the congregation. Most of the religious in traditional habits are young. And there are hundreds and hundreds of them! Watch as the seemingly endless procession of clergy and seminarians enter, again, by the hundreds. And there too, youthful vigor is in strong display! So many are the priests and seminarians that they overflow the sanctuary into the side chapel for the Blessed Sacrament and into the ambulatory behind and around the High Altar. Here is a Basilica, one of the ten largest churches in the world, filled to overflowing with life, joy and worship! Yes, the Church is a bride, she is not a widow! Indeed, she is the joyful mother of multitudes.

Rally Riches – And this is just the Vigil Mass. The next day, of your pro-life pilgrimage features a youth Rally at the Verizon Center. The doors open early for music and praise. 18,000, mostly young people, pack the place. Music, inspired talks, the wave and ten trillion watts of youthful energy fill the center in one of its largest functions of the year. A reverent but energetic Mass follows, celebrated by Cardinal Wuerl. One of the younger priests of the Archdiocese usually preaches an energetic and youth oriented homily. And then, after the reception of Holy Communion, concluding prayer and praise, the youthful congregation bursts forth onto the streets of Downtown Washington to head for the March line-up on the Mall.

Overflow! The number of young people vastly outsizes the capacity of the Verizon Center. Last year an alternative overflow site at the DC Armory hosted an additional 10,000 young people. There too, after prayer and praise and the celebration of the Holy Mass the young people and their adult chaperons headed for the Mall to begin the March.

And march itself is also a remarkable display in diversity. The balance is wonderfully tipped toward a youthful appearance. Here, Catholics join non-Catholics, fellow believers and even non-believers to march in six-figure numbers. The joy, the prayer, the hope and the experience of how right and just it is to support life all fill the air. It is usually cold, but the warmth within the crowd is tangible. And again, it is the youth who so often set the tone. They have zeal and zest as they lead chants and celebrate life.

The only angry people I meet at the March are usually the pro-choice counter demonstrators I speak with. There are about a dozen of them in front of the Supreme Court and I go to each one of them and individually, if I can and say, as I look into their eyes, “In your heart you know better, you know abortion is terribly wrong.” I speak as softly as I could in the outdoor environment with a lot of background noise. I am trying to go right for their conscience, which, though suppressed, is still there. For the voice of God ultimately echoes in every human person according to the Catechism (cf CCC # 1776). Deep down they DO know that abortion is wrong.

Last year, I only got about half way through the group before they surrounded me and began to engage me. Their primary accusation against me seemed to be that I was not a woman. Of this I am guilty, but suggested to them that to determine the wrongness of abortion did not require a womb but, rather, a mind and a heart, something both men and women have! 🙂 They grew angrier with me as I didn’t easily go away but continued down the line suggesting to each one that they knew, deep down, that it was wrong to abort babies. I wanted to speak this to each one personally. I wanted to try and reach their conscience. Difficult, but worth trying.

In the end they chose to serenade me! And here was the song they sang:

  • Hey Hey, Ho, Ho! Pro-life men have got to go!
  • Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! If YOU got pregnant then you’d know!

Even here, Life! Well, I just smiled and prayed, and the ladies in the rosary group behind me redoubled their prayers and I stood there and waited for the counter-protesters to grow tired of singing. I was grateful to suffer for the sake of the Name and to be a “fool for Christ” in their eyes (1 Cor 4:10). Yes, even this was life giving for me. Dr. King had once said, “If you find a good fight, get in it!” And here I was on the front line, in the forward trench.

In the end, to stand up for life is to experience life and to experience it to the top! The March for Life shows the Church fully alive, youthful, joyful, numerous and diverse. We have discussed before on this blog with sobriety some alarming trends and numbers in the western branch of the Church. But this weekend shows once again that the Church is a bride, not a widow. That she remains alive and strong, prophetic and enthusiastic. It shows that her young are still numerous, that vocations are rebounding. It shows that zeal for the truth is still deep in a faithful remnant that is glad to be alive, glad to celebrate life, glad to be Catholic and experience that the Church is catholic (universal). To stand up for life is to experience life. Come next year to Washington.

This video shows some glimpses of the Pro-Life Youth Rally at the Verizon Center. The footage is from

A Dangerous Reflection on the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, all those young boys in and around Bethlehem, two and under, whom Herod had massacred in order to kill Jesus Christ. We do not know their number or their names, but the Church lists them as among her martyrs. Some have disputed that they should be called martyrs since they did not submit freely for the sake of Christ but were “merely victims” of Herod. Nevertheless, the Church has long numbered them in her ranks of martyrs. St. Augustine says of them:

And while [Herod] thus persecutes Christ, he furnished an army (or martyrs) clothed in white robes of the same age as the Lord…. O blessed infants! He only will doubt of your crown in this your passion for Christ, who doubts that the baptism of Christ has a benefit for infants. He who at His birth had Angels to proclaim Him, the heavens to testify, and Magi to worship Him, could surely have prevented that these should not have died for Him, had He not known that they died not in that death, but rather lived in higher bliss. Far be the thought, that Christ who came to set men free, did nothing to reward those who died in His behalf, when hanging on the cross He prayed for those who put Him to death. (Serm. 373, 3, quoted in the Catena Aurea).

Today we honor their sacrifice. And through our honoring of them, and worship of God, we seek to atone for the many sins against human life, beginning with abortion, and including other forms of murder, and euthanasia, disregard for the safety and dignity of others, mistreatment and indifference to the plight of others, and all other sins against life.

Where does human cruelty come from? Surely it grows in us by stages, for most of us are not born with murderous fear of others. It is “bequeathed” to us by others, and we grow it in our heart. Hatred, rooted in fear, is handed on down through the generations, and the murderous inherit a thinking that there are some who are not worthy of their respect and love. Perhaps they are a threat, perhaps their relatives did something in the past. Perhaps they may do something in the future. Herod was clearly a fearful man, so fearful that he was unmoved by the cries of wailing parents, or of suffering infants. His heart had grow cruel through repeated insensitivity inflicted on others, due to raging and irrational fear.

An Old Latin Hymn says, Crudelis Herodes, Deum Regem venire quid times? Non eripit mortalia, Qui regna dat caelestia (Cruel Herod what do you fear in the King and God to come? He seizes not earthly things who gives heavenly kingdoms). But in the end it IS his fear that drives him.

We know well that Holy Innocents continue to be killed in our world through abortion. And here too, it is most often fear that drives the killing. How will the baby be afforded?! What changes will this baby bring that I cannot take? Perhaps the prenatal tests show a possible defect. I cannot deal with this! What if my parents know that I am pregnant? How will this pregnancy affect my career?! What if my father finds out I got my girl-friend pregnant!? And society says, What of poverty? What of overpopulation? What of deformity? How can we collectively handle all this?

And thus fear drives the current bloodshed. Fear makes us focus on our self, such that we think too little of what we do to others. Abortion thus becomes an “abstraction,” an “issue” that is debated, a “choice.” Abortion, to many, is anything but real. The reality of fetal pain is out of sight and thus less real than the fear. What abortion is doing to our world, that too is less real than the fear. It is the fear that is real, and the fear eclipses everything else. And fear desensitizes, and thus the killing of the innocent becomes plausible, a woman’s “choice,” reproductive “freedom.”

The only solution to fear is trust, faith in God. God alone can set us free from the awful fears that currently drive abortion. We in the Church must be realistic about the fears that many face before the mystery of new life and we must provide reasons for hope and trust. Fear is a cruel task-master and it drives us to do some pretty awful things.

One of the most common lines in the New Testament is “Do not be afraid.” Hope, trust and Faith are important to us on this feast of the Holy Innocents.

There is also this dangerous thought on this Holy Feast.

I’ll explain what I mean by “dangerous” in a moment. But for now consider some biblical facts with me.

  1. When God was drawing close to liberating his chosen people from slavery in Egypt there occurred the order to murder of the all the baby boys among the Hebrews. It is almost as though Satan sensed that God was up to something good, and Satan raged, through Pharaoh, in murderous anger driven by fear. Thankfully the actual numbers were reduced since the Egyptian midwives engaged in civil disobedience, refusing to allow the practice to continue.
  2. At the time of Jesus, when God was preparing to liberate his people from sin, there also occurred the murder of innocent baby boys. Here too, it is almost as though the Devil sensed that God was up to something good and, he once again raged, this time through Herod, in murderous anger driven by fear. Thankfully too this infanticide also ended at some point.
  3. Notice the pattern. When God prepared a great liberation, the Devil, raging in fear, went after the babies. In our time, on a scale as never before, the Devil is going after our babies in murderous anger driven by fear. What is he afraid of? Is God planning something big in the near future? Is there a great liberation at hand? Is there a great advancement of evangelization and conversion in the offing? We can only speculate. But patterns are patterns and Scripture has a way of repeating its patterns and echoing down through the centuries.

Why is this a dangerous reflection? Because I want to make it clear that abortion, the killing of the innocents in our age, is NOT, and never can be, considered something good, or a “positive sign.” Such a speculation might cause some to wrongly conclude that abortion is part of God’s plan or something we should see “positively.” We should not. It must be fought. It is of Satan, it is rooted in fear.

End the Massacre And the Glory follows – I want to conclude by reminding you that the great liberation that followed the past infanticides did not occur until AFTER those murderous rages were stopped. Hence, to follow the pattern established in Scripture, and to see a potentially great and liberating act of God, we must first see an end to the slaughter. Work and pray to end abortion. May the Holy Innocents pray for us!

I put the following video together to honor these young martyrs. The musical setting is by Michael Haydn of the hymn for the Feast of the Holy Innocents: Salvete Flores Martyrum – It is from his Vesperae In F for Equal Voices, Soli and Orchestra.The singers are the Collegium Instrumentale Brugense. This music is available at iTunes. The Latin text of this ancient hymn is quite beautiful. I produce here the Latin text followed by a fairly literal translation.

I would like to call your attention to the second verse and a very charming detail. That verse described these young, two year old martyrs as holding palm branches (the symbol of martyrdom) but as they hold them they play with them, in the way a young child will often fiddle with palm branches in Church. Beautiful and so very human!

Salvete flores martyrum, – Hail Martyr Flowers
quos lucis ipso in limine – On the very threshold of the dawn (of life)
Christi insecutor sustulit – Christ’s persecutor destroyed (you)
ceu turbo nascentes rosas. – like the whirlwind does the budding roses.

Vos prima Christi victima, – You Christ’s first fruits
grex immolatorum tener, – A flock of tender sacrificial victims
aram sub ipsam simplices – right up by the very altar
palma et coronis luditis. – now play with your palms and crowns

Iesu, tibi sit gloria, – Jesus to you be glory
qui natus es de Virgine, – who were born of the Virgin
cum Patre et almo Spiritu, – with the Father and loving Spirit
in sempiterna saecula. Amen. – unto to eternal ages. Amen.

Personhood Amendment In Mississippi Runs Afoul of "In Vitro" Fertilization Enthusiasts. A Consideration of the Facts of IVF and of the Sinful Human Tendency to Want What We Want, No Matter Who Gets Hurt.

In Mississippi, Tuesday (November 8 ), citizens will be asked to vote on the Personhood Amendment, declaring the fertilized embryo a legal person. The amendment is intended to legally prevent abortions.  However a group called Resolve –  National Fertility Association has publicized concerns that the bill could render In Vitro Fertilization illegal or at least open to legal challenge. Personhood USA, a group supportive of the bill claims that In Vitro procedures will not be threatened. The video below features a discussion from both points of view.

The Personhood Amendment would be a wonderful step forward in walking back Roe v. Wade. It will surely face an uphill battle with legal challenges that will likely land it in the Supreme Court of the United States.  Nevertheless the initiative is bold and gives me great hope. Thus it is a great sadness to hear the latest protests that put passage of the Amendment at risk.

I am neither a political pundit nor a lawyer. But what I am is a concerned believer in God who deeply regrets the mess we have gotten ourselves into by our many attempts to play God.

We clearly play God by sentencing innocent life to death by abortion. This is life God has created (cf. Jer 1:4; Psalm 139 ) In effect we snatch the life from God’s creative hands and say, “This shall not be.”

But we also play God by insisting that infertile couples have a right to conceive and bear children, when nature and nature’s God have said no. With in vitro fertilization we go beyond assisting fertility and then depending on the marriage act. Rather we sideline the God given manner for conception and turn it into a technology in a petri dish. This too is a way of telling God “This shall not be” in reference to infertility and normal conception.

There are many problems with In Vitro fertilization that has caused the Catholic Church to forbid it.

  1. Life as Consumer Product – In IVF, a fertilizable ovum is removed from a woman’s ovary and put in a petri dish (the Latin for dish is vitrum) to which a few concentrated drops of sperm are added. This removes human conception from the marriage act, its sacred and proper place, where God acts to bestow life.  IVF puts it in the laboratory where man controls the process and conception is treated as a technology and consumer product, rather than as part of a mystery of fruitful love caught up in the marriage embrace and the love God.
  2. No person and no couple has a right to a child. A child is a person with rights; he or she is not merely an object, a possession, or a technological product.
  3. God is Wrong! From a faith perspective, IVF simply refuses God’s “failure” to act in accord with the wishes of the parents, and removes the decision from God. God may be teaching something to the couple due to their infertility. Perhaps he wants them to adopt, perhaps he has a special work or cause he wants them to be devoted to. But IVF suspends such discernment, and forces the solution.
  4. There is a strong bias today toward only caring about what is best for adults. This is widespread in our culture. Hence, if adults are unhappy they can divorce, not matter what this does to children, the children have no legal voice or say in the matter. Further, if a child comes at an unexpected or inopportune time, many just abort. Again, it is the adults who matter. In IVF there is also some of this thinking since what seems to matter most is that the adults want a baby. Never mind what IVF may do to how we think of life, as a technology to be exercised at our whim, rather than a sacred mystery. Never mind that imperfect embryos are discarded or frozen. Never mind that many IVF procedures selectively abort later. Never mind that IVF children are more often born prematurely, or suffer higher rates of birth defects. What matters is what adults want and demand.
  5. Discarding Embryos – As already stated, it is a usual practice that more eggs are fertilized than the woman will need. This is because not all embryos survive. Thus, more than one egg, usually several or numerous eggs, are fertilized. If “too many” embryos survive the rest are either discarded (i.e. killed), frozen or mined for stem cells (i.e. killed).
  6. For reasons such as these, the Church considers IVF to be gravely sinful.
  8. There are certain procedures allowable to Catholics which enhance fertility but do not remove or replace the marriage act. But IVF is far beyond what is approved for the reasons stated.

So here we are with another cultural show-down. Resolve –  National Fertility Association is not a pro-abortion group as far as I can tell. In fact I would imagine that many, if not most, of its members would describe themselves as pro-life. But IVF and abortion have this in common: Playing God and saying that I have a right over life, that I call the shots.

Further, while many of its members and “consumers” of IVF services may choose not to think so, discarding of embryos is killing, is aborting. Freezing them is a cruel delay and a further indignity. Imagine keeping children on ice until their arrival is more convenient. And what if they never become convenient? The big chill continues until they become stale (i.e. dead).

Disclaimer – Now, there are likely many well-intentioned couples who may never have thought through all this, or have been misguided, or are just so desperate for a child that they’ll do almost anything. But in the end, IVF is problematic and morally wrong for the reasons stated.

We live in times where too many think that they can just have what they want. Many think that, if we can do something, we should be free to do something. But there are other things at stake than just what people want. There is reverence for the sacred mystery of life, there is concern for the common good, there is what actually happens to imperfect or superfluous embryos.

And in Mississippi there is a good bill that is now threatened by IVF enthusiasts whose basic premise seems often to be that they should be able to have what they want, no matter side effects. And for Resolve –  National Fertility Association it is clear that IVF is more important to them even than working to end abortion. The threat to IVF procedures, even if legally remote, is so grave to them, that they are willing to see abortions continue by the millions, if only they can still have IVF. It would seem more of the same from our culture that wants what it wants no matter the cost.  What a mess.

Here’s the video of the Fox news debate. Sorry for the Ad if it pops up.