Many of you are aware that last week the Texas Legislature passed historic legislation that significantly limits abortion in Texas and shows that the claim of the “Pro-Choice” abortion advocates that they mere want abortion “safe and legal.” For the Texas Law places significant requirements that so-called “clinics” must meet basic medical requirements and certification. All of these requirements will significantly enhance women’s safety from unsafe and shoddy medical practices all too common in abortion “clinics.”
Now, of course, pro-choice advocates, who have long marched under the banner of “safe and legal,” should hail the Texas decision since it goes a long way to ensure one of their two “pillar” positions (i.e. that abortion be “safe”). But of course they are not, they are howling in protest.
Yet as strong advocates for “women’s safety” they claim to look back in horror to the days of “coat-hanger” abortions and insist that those days must never return. So, surely, they will support measures to further protect women from the often unsafe, unsanitary and under-regulated women’s “clinics.” Many stories have recently surfaced that show just how unsafe these clinics are. For example
Well, you get the point. There are huge problems in the abortion “industry” regarding safety. The pro-choice advocates claim they want to have safe abortions available. Here comes Texas to the rescue with strong legislative protections for women who go to these so-called clinics. But as we can see from the reactions above, the “safe and legal” advocates are well prepared to sacrifice safety in order to keep abortion more legal.
It is clear that regulating abortion will limit its availability. Hence the “Safe” pillar, they claim to be at the foundation of their movement, has to give way for the legal pillar. Never mind that some women are butchered and even die.
It would seem it’s really the “legal” of “safe and legal” that matters. Or so it would seem. For all the talk about women’s safety, it would appear that such a concern is quite secondary.
Hence, the Texas Law puts the lie to the propaganda of the Pro-choice advocates. “Safe” for them appears to be more of an abstraction or a slogan. Real safety doesn’t seem to interest them, or at least, it seems to threaten them.
Without a doubt, the victory in Texas is a sad and ironic one. Focusing on women’s safety is a fine goal in itself. But, what of the safety of the unborn children? Well, step by step we’ll make this journey to recapture of the hearts of our countrymen. As for the safety of women, fine, but half of all babies killed are female. Would that Pro-Choice advocates really care about the safety of all women and children.
Here at least is a step to further exposing the hypocrisy of many who cry “safe and legal.” Here at least is a step in seeing that women who are often pressured to have abortions are not easily subjected to the horrors of an under-regulated “industry.”
Here is a video of the prayers on-going before an awful late term abortion clinic in Maryland. Take a few moments and watch. And while you watch, pray. One of those organizing the prayers says with confidence, “Carhart will leave soon.” And surely our prayers will help in not only that, but his conversion as well.
Unlike many other countries, the United States does not have federal statutes or guidelines governing surrogacy parenting. Thus, many states have their own laws in this regard. Currently The District of Columbia prohibits surrogate parenting: Any person or entity who or which is involved in, or induces, arranges, or otherwise assists in the formation of a surrogate parenting contract for a fee, compensation, or other remuneration, or otherwise violates this section, shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $ 10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.” (D.C. Code § 16-402)
But Council Member David Catania has introduced legislation that would legalize and regulate surrogacy parenting within the District of Columbia. Every council member except for Council Member Marion Barry co-sponsored the proposed legislation.
The Catholic Church opposes surrogate motherhood, a process wherein an embryo from one couple is placed in the womb of a second woman and carried to term by her, usually for remuneration.
Even many Catholics are not certain why we oppose this, along with the similar procedure of in vitro fertilization. Let’s consider from a faith perspective and also from Natural Law why the Church must oppose such procedures.
We begin by noting a kind of sacred trilogy that encompasses human sexuality and procreation.
First, we begin with the truth that human life is sacred. In saying that our life is “sacred” we do not mean merely that human life is somehow “very special” or “unique.” Rather, to say that human life is “sacred” is to say “it is of God.”
Human life comes intentionally and lovingly from the very hand of God. Every human being, even our enemies, and great sinners, are known by God, loved by God, willed by God, intended by God. In Jeremiah 1:5 God says Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Thus, in a mysterious way, our existence was already present to God long before we were ever conceived. We were already in the heart and the mind of God as he was preparing for our conception and existence. Psalm 139 speaks about God knitting us together in our mother’s womb. The same Psalm says that all of our days were written in gods book before one of them ever came to be.
Thus, the human person is sacred. That is, our lives have the mark of God upon them. Our life, our very existence, is caught up in the intention, the will, the very heart of God. Human life is sacred.
Second, since human life is sacred, so are the means by which we come into existence. Thus, our second truth is that sexual intercourse is sacred. Again, the word “sacred” is not simply a way of saying that sex is very special. Rather, it indicates the sexual intercourse is from God, and is touched by him.
Just as in marriage there are three to get married, the husband, the wife and the Lord; so, in the great sacramental expression of marriage, sexual intercourse, the husband and wife are joined, but in the Lord. The Lord, who is the author of their love, joins the spouses and, according to his will, makes their love fruitful in their children.
So, the origin of every sacred human person, is in the sacred sexual act, which involves not only the spouses, but also the Lord.
Sadly, in our culture, sex is treated as anything but sacred. It is often the butt of jokes, suffers from lewd conduct, countless misapplications and perversions, to include: fornication adultery, pornography, immodesty, homosexual acts, and so forth. What is beautiful and sacred, is treated to base and profane. What is serious and requires commitment, is treated as casual and often passing.
And, if the sacredness of sex is treated lightly, so is the sacredness of human life easily discarded. It is no coincidence that the culture of death has emerged in the age of promiscuity. The body count associated with lust is truly staggering.
Third, since human life is sacred, and the sexual intercourse, which gives rise to it, is sacred, so is the context of sex and life we call marriage also sacred. Once again, calling marriage “sacred” is not merely a way of saying it is “really neat” or “very special.” Once again, we call marriage sacred because it is set forth by God, and is from God, and every valid marriage is in fact a work of God.
Scripture details in Genesis (1 & 2) how God set forth marriage, declaring that it was not good for the man to be alone. God thus made Eve, and we are told that, for this reason a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one (Gen 2:24). Therefore, marriage is one man, for one woman, in a stable and lasting bond. Jesus adds, What God has joined together, let no one divide (Matt 19:6). In saying this, Jesus also underscores that, not only is marriage an institution from God, but that every valid marriage is in fact a work of God. What God has joined together, no one is to divide.
It makes sense that marriage should be an enduring institution, for each couple. Why? For God sets fourth that the fruit of marriage should be godly offspring. He tells the first couple, Adam and Eve, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth! (Gen 1:28). Thus that marriage should be heterosexual, fruitful and lasting makes sense, because that is what is best, and what is just for children. Namely, that they should be raised by their own father and mother, formed by a male and female influence, in an environment that is both stable, and gives complementary witness to the fullness of the human person.
And so, having set forth a kind of sacred trilogy that the human person, human sexual intercourse, and marriage are all sacred, we now observe the God has united these three sacred realities and intends them to be together. The human person, who is sacred, is intended to be conceived in the loving and sacred embrace of sexual intercourse, between a man and woman in the sacred union of holy matrimony.
Marriage, sex and children are all meant to be united, and God has joined them. Sadly, we seem today to be intent on dividing them.
We see any number of ways that the sacred trilogy is often violated today. Obviously fornication, adultery, and homosexual acts, all violate the trilogy by separating out or removing essential parts of it.
Fornicators and adulterers violate the marital aspect, and usually also, (by contraception), violate the connection to life. Indeed, all contraception denies that there is any necessary connection between sexual intercourse and procreation. As such, contraceptives separate what God intends to be joined.
Homosexuals deny the nuptial meaning of the body, and obviously cannot procreate in any way or be open to life in their acts. And now they seem, at least collectively, determined to utterly set aside marriage as God himself sets it forth in the Scriptures.
But now we also come to other aberrations that are proposed today which also violate the sacred trilogy of sacred human life, being conceived in the sacred sexual embrace, within sacred marriage.
Thus we see, so called “in vitro” fertilization wherein human conception is removed from sacred sexual intercourse, and done in a petri dish. Life now is no longer caught up in this sweet mystery of the marital embrace, and left to the hand of God. Life becomes now a product, produced in a laboratory, usually at a stated price. Sacred human life, becomes a commodity for sale.
The hand of God is overruled as is done in every human sinful practice where in God’s will is simply overridden by prideful human beings.
It will be admitted that infertility in certain couples is lamentable and, at human level, it may seem understandable that they should want to do what is possible to conceive. Yet, in the end, the reality is that we are separating what God has joined.
Also resisted is the notion that perhaps the couple is infertile for reasons known to God. Perhaps he wishes them to adopt. Or, perhaps He wishes them to engage in some dedicated work in the Church or the world, other than parenthood. In vitro fertilization resists discerning God’s will and seeks merely to supplant our wishes.
The killing of many embryos is also morally odious. The vast number of embryos that are conceived are either discarded, frozen, or sent off to experimentation and to be harvested by those engaged in stem cell research etc. Again, human life is treated as a commodity to be bought and sold, and used at will.
And this leads us then to the problem of so-called surrogate motherhood. The process is similar to in vitro fertilization wherein the father and mother both contribute sperm and ovum and these are combined in a petri dish. But the difference is, instead of being placed in the womb of the genetic mother, the embryo is placed in the womb of a second woman who carries the baby to term.
Genetically, this is not her child. But of course, motherhood is little more complicated than simply whose genes are involved. The mother who carries a child in her womb develops an intimacy and a real bond of connection to that child. And hence we are involved in some very great distortions of what God intends, and are playing with the notion of what motherhood really is about.
Once again, we are seeing a great break up of the trilogy that God intends to be together. The child is not conceived in the sacred marital embrace, but rather in a petri dish. God’s hand is once again overruled, or in effect He is a dis-invited from the decision of conception. Thirdly, the couple, even if married, goes outside the marriage and places their child in the womb of another woman.
There is a kind of a notion to work here, it would seem, that the womb of the surrogate mother is simply a container, a temporary resting place that can be borrowed or rented, if you will.
Absolutely nothing is left in place of what God intends to be together. There is a complete break up here.
Again, it will be admitted that infertility for a couple is a less desirable, even a very sad reality. But here too, the Church cannot simply say it’s okay to overrule God seems to will, or at least permit for reasons of His own. Neither can we fail to insist on the need to discern God’s will. If natural parenthood is not open, what is? Adoption? Some other worthy and noble undertaking? God never closes one door without opening others.
Surrogate motherhood is forbidden to a Catholic for the reasons stated above. We in the Church also argue that it is bad public policy to be supportive of the sorts of activities.
Natural law – In surrogate motherhood, not only is human life treated as a commodity; not only are many embryos discarded in the ways described above, but Natural Law and common sense arguments also show that surrogate motherhood is a bad idea to encourage.
Even without mentioning God, is clear that nature provides that children are conceived in the heterosexual embrace of sexual intercourse. Further, nature also shows that it is best for children to be raised in a stable environment and be raised with a male and female influence. Further, nature also demonstrates that the natural affections created by physical descent are stronger than merely legal or secondary relationships. Tampering with the normal course of families, and what nature provides as the best and most healthy environment to conceive and bear children, is a recipe for trouble.
It is bad public policy to in any way encourage the willful tampering with the natural order of things.
That the DC government thinks it necessary to pass laws regulating legal transactions around surrogate motherhood, shows that the practice is leads to all sorts of legal problems. What frequently happens is that when we meddle with natural affections, and try to think of motherhood merely in terms of genetics, (rather than nurturing and so forth), we end up with a real mess, and many conflicted feelings. Surrogate mothers are not always so happy to relinquish their babies after all. Imagine that!
Now into this fray, with all of its confusion, is proposed all sorts of legalities and a government trying to regulate but really shouldn’t be happening in the first place.
The District of Columbia should leave unchanged the current laws which forbid and discourage surrogate motherhood. Certain District residents may want to engage in practices harmful for the reasons stated, and the District government may not be able to stop them or enforce the laws forbidding the practice, but in no way should the District encourage such practices by enforcing contractual agreements related to them. Surrogate motherhood is a lamentable practice, and it is bad policy to support it in any way.
This video illustrates the strange but true world of Surrogacy.
John Allen Muhammad is scheduled to die today by lethal injection. Muhammad terrorized the Washington D.C. area back in October 2002 when he and Lee Malvo, the DC Snipers randomly shot 13 people, killing ten of them. It was a time of great terror. It was especially frightening since it seemed so random and unpredictable. They covered almost the entire DC area and struck at odd intervals of time. No place or time seemed safe. The simple act of pumping gas or coming out of a store might get you killed. Few of us are emotionally sympathetic to John Allen Muhammad’s fate. He caused great harm and terror.
But what of the use of the death penalty? What, if anything, should a Catholic consider as John Allen Muhammad likely dies today by the hand of the State?
It is not my purpose here reconsider Catholic teaching on the death penalty. That has been done by far greater scholars than I. I would like to recommend to your attention one of the best articles I have ever read on the subject. It is by Cardinal Avery Dulles who published on the topic in the journal First Things. The article is fair and quite thorough and you can read it here: Catholicism and Capital Punishment. After carefully setting forth the traditional Catholic teaching Cardinal Dulles concludes by appealing to concept of pastoral judgement:
In coming to this prudential conclusion [of negatively assessing Capital Punishment], the magisterium is not changing the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine remains what it has been: that the State, in principle, has the right to impose the death penalty on persons convicted of very serious crimes. But the classical tradition held that the State should not exercise this right when the evil effects outweigh the good effects. Thus the principle still leaves open the question whether and when the death penalty ought to be applied. The pope and the bishops, using their prudential judgment, have concluded that in contemporary society, at least in countries like our own, the death penalty ought not to be invoked, because, on balance, it does more harm than good. I personally support this position.
It seems that the key phrase is “prudential judgment.” Catholics often like to get in protracted discussions and debates about whether or not the death penalty is allowed. Acutally the answer to that question is not unclear. It is allowed, but strongly discouraged by the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” (CCC 2267)
So, in the end we are dealing with a prudential judgment by recent Popes and most of the worlds bishops who conclude that the Death Penalty is allowable under certain circumstances but it is not expedient since it does more harm than good. It is not a question of orthodoxy per se but of pastoral judgment. Catholics are not absolutely bound to follow prudential judgments of the bishops or even the pope. But let me ask you to ponder why we ought to follow such a judgment.
Addressing the Culture of Death effectively – We are living in what Pope John Paul called a “culture of death.” In this culture, the death or non existence of another human being is increasingly proposed as the “solution” to problems. Is the baby inconvenient, unhealthy or conceived in adverse economic conditions? Well then, abort (kill) the baby. Is a person suffering a poor quality of life at the end of their days? Well then, euthanize (kill) the patient. Are children difficult to raise and costly too? Well then, contracept (veto the life) of such children. The death penalty too manifests and promotes death as a solution to problems. One of the ways to contravene the culture of death is to live prophetically and to consistently call for an end to such thinking across the board. While it is possible for us to make distinctions between the death penalty and other forms of killing, the world may not always understand our message and its nuance. What if the Pope and bishops are asking us to accept this fact and, as a pastoral strategy, to battle the culture of death across the board? It is a pastoral strategy that seems reasonable given the fact that we live in a culture of death.
So instead of debating what is doctrinal or not, what if we considered what is most effective? What if we allowed our shepherds (the Pope and bishops) to establish a pastoral strategy? What we we trusted their charism to lead us in this matter? Some Catholics have doubted the pastoral judgements of bishops in recent decades. But consider this is not just one bishop, not just one bishops conference, it is recent Popes and the vast majority of bishops worldwide in a collective pastoral judgment, a judgment that is written right in the Catechism. What if we trusted them and the charism they have received to lead us not just in absolute doctrinal matters but also in significant pastoral matters?
Unity is essential in war – We are in time of war culturally speaking, and in such times strategies are necessary. It is also necessary to stand together. What if we set aside all the debates about the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and simply accepted our Pope’s strategy and that of the bishops? In war the troops may sometimes wonder as to the strategy at the top but in the end teamwork and obedience to the chain of command wins the day a lot more effectively than 10,000 soldiers all doing their own thing. Unity around a reasonable strategy seems best. Our Pope and the bishops have asked us to stand unified, strong and consistently against the culture of death.
Religious submission extends beyond defined dogma– Hence it seems that the pastoral judgment of the Pope and bishops in this matter should not simply be considered as one opinion among many. We ought to give special emphasis to what they teach in this matter and other moral issues of our day. There is a lot of legalism among Catholics today about what we “have to believe.” There may well be technical distinctions worthy of discussion but there is also a general teachability (docility) we ought to manifest as well. Lumen Gentium # 25 encourages a submission and docility of the faithful that extends beyond merely defined dogma: Bishops who teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff are to be respected by all as witnesses of divine and catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, should concur with their bishop’s judgment, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and adhere to it with a religious docility of spirit. This religious docility of the will and intellect must be extended, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra, in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him conformably with his manifest mind and intention…
In the end we are invited to stand together with the Pope and Bishops in their prudential judgment on the matter of captial punishment. We may be emotionally glad to see the likes of John Allen Muhammad ushered out but in the end we should have serious questions about what we are really doing here. Our Pope and bishops ask us to ponder such things and to stand with them against such death oriented solutions. Why not, in time of war, stand with them in their strategy?
We have discussed the “culture of death” numerous times before on this blog. This description of Western Culture was used by Pope John Paul II. Fundamentally it refers to the fact that in the modern, western world, especially America death is incresingly seen as a “solution” to problems. Has a child come along at an inconvenient time? Perhaps the baby has been diagnosed with defects perhaps there is some other wrenching problem regarding the pregnancy such as the poverty of the mother. The solution? Abort the baby. Has a criminal committed heinous acts? Kill him through capital punishment. Is an elderly or sick person suffering from a reduced quality of life? Perhaps they are bedridden or experiencing the pains of the dying process. Solution? Euthanize them. Does raising children and dealing with a larger family cause hardships: economic and emotional? Do children cause stress? Simple, contracept so that they don’t exist in the first place. So you see, the death or non-existence of human beings is increasingly the “solution” to problems and this is what is meant by the “culture of death.”
This whole mindset has even reached our entertainment industry which portrays the culture of death in an almost cartoonish way. Notice the basic scenario of most every action or adventure movie:
As the movie begins a villainous individual or group commits some heinous act of injustice. But soon enough “our hero” steps on the scene and commits to resolve this terrible threat and correct the injustice. After about 90 minutes of killing people, breaking things, blowing up buildings and engaging in hair-raising car chases that usually end in fiery crashes our hero triumphs overwhelmingly, restores justice and walks off the set with “the girl” on his arm, burning buildings in the background….fade to credits.
And we love this sort of stuff. At one level it is very entertaining. But it IS a cartoon. In real life villains and heroes are not as easily distinguished (though I do NOT mean to say that there is no such thing as right and wrong). Likewise, in real life blowing up buildings, car chases etc. endanger lives and take serious tolls. Real people do not walk away from high speed car crashes like they do in the movies. If they survive at all it takes months to recuperate from the damage inflicted on a real human body. In real life people who get killed, even if they are villains have people who mourn their loss. The true toll of all this violence is far greater in real life.
Ultimately it is the culture of death on display in cartoonish fashion. It is a parody of real attitudes in western culture. But the message is clear enough, cartoonish though it be: the solution to injustice is violence, mayhem and death. I do not deny that sometimes lethal force must be used to protect society from evil but it is always a last recourse and a moment for deep concern and moral reflection.
“Oh come on Father lighten up!….” OK I admit it is usually “good fun” and most don’t take it seriously. But my central point is that we should be careful as to the messages we send and receive even in diversionary entertainment. It says something about us that we are entertained by this sort of stuff. We ought at least to do a reality check as to this. Every now and then we do well to examine our culture and its premises. Is this movie teaching what Christ did? Just a thought.
Here is a funny video that well illustrates the cartoonish nature of adventure/action movies. It’s really quite funny. It’s entitled “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions, They Blow Things Up and Then Walk Away.” Just a word of warning there are two slightly vulgar expressions (nothing horrible) used at the very beginning of the video but it’s part of the caricature intended. Otherwise, enjoy this rather silly video that parodies one aspect of the “Culture of Death.”
In the article just below, Susan Timoney has called to our attention that latest notion of the “culture of death.” What is the “culture of death” you might ask. Essentially what it amounts to is that the “solution” to problems seems (increasingly) to be the death(or non-existence) of a human being, or of human beings in general. If a baby is inconvenient or has birthdefects or is in somehow not preferred, abort (kill) the baby. If a prisoner has committed serious crimes, kill him. If a person is in the final stages of life and has difficulties that minimize the quality of life, kill the patient, or let him kill himself. Even our entertainment is deadly in nature. The typical adventure movie begins by some injustice or act of violence. Then our hero steps on the scene and, after about an hour and a half of killing people, breaking things, crashing cars, blowing up stuff etc., justice is restored and our hero walks off the scene with the girl in his arms. What was the solution to injustice? Why of course, death.
Save the Planet by Dying! And now, in order to save the planet what is the solution? Our old friend, death, or in this case, the premeditated non existence of people through contraception. You see we have to minimize our “carbon footprint” as a species so to “save the planet” we should block the existence of new human beings. (Ever notice how, only people who are already alive suggest that others should not exist?) OK, so lets all agree that a clean planet with well managed resources is a good thing. But not if no one is around to enjoy it. The secular worldview sees the planet as an end in it itself. The Judeo/Christian worldview sees the earth has having been made for the human race and given to us by God (cf Gen. 1:28) who told us to be fruitful and multiply.
Malthus was Wrong – For well over a century now the alarmists have told us we would run out of food and other resources. We have not. We have gotten smarter. We farm more efficiently and manage our resources better. There is plenty of food to go around. It is corruption and injustice that keeps some of the poor from being well fed, not a lack of resources. But the culture of death insists on death and non-existence as a solution. Most of this kind of talk comes from the affluent West and western-style cultures.
Getting What We Want? – Well, perhaps the affluent West is about to get what it wants to dole out to others: increasing non-existence. It seems we are slowing going out of business. With birthrates plummeting throughout Europe and other Western democracies the writing is on the wall as never before: non-existence is looming ever larger. In France the birthrate is 1.8 children per family, well below the replacement level of 2.1 Ah! Good News! says the culture of death crowd. Not so fast. There is another birthrate in France that is quite different. Muslim families in France have a birthrate of 8.1 children per family. Europeans who have lost their love for life are simply being replaced by others who do love life. Europe as we know it today is going out of existence. Everywhere, in Germany, Italy, England and Spain, Japan too and other western style democracies too are being replaced.
Committing Suicide – And What of the Church? Last year the Roman Catholic Church was displaced as the largest religion in the world by Muslim believers who have taken the top spot. Not only is Western Culture committing a kind of suicide but so are the Catholics and other Christians there. The Catholic Church has warned of the dangers of contraception for years and the world, even many Catholics, have laughed at this “archaic” teaching. Well, it is time to wake up. We are committing suicide, we are going out of existence. It is almost as if the judgement of God is upon us, saying, “If you do not love life, you will be replaced by those who do.” God often strengthened Israel’s opponents in the Old Testament in order to punish and purify Israel. I wonder if something similar isn’ t happening here. The Christian West has cast aside its love of life and kicked faith to the curb. The Muslims who DO love life and have NOT kicked faith(though not our faith) to the curb are thriving. Pay attention.
Can’t Happen?? “Well”, you say, “It cannot happen. The Cathedrals of Europe will not become Mosques.” Think again. Ephesus was once the thriving center of a large Christian community in Asia Minor. This great city had some superstar Bishops. Paul had been there three years, possibly Peter, Then John the Beloved Apostle became its Bishop and Mother Mary according to tradition lived there in John’s household. But the Lord warned Ephesus: Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Rev 2:4-5). Today the Church in Ephesus is gone, the city lies in ruins. The other six Churches are also gone. Modern Day Turkey, though officially secular is predominately Muslim. North Africa was once a thriving Catholic area. There were over 500 bishops, among them the great Augustine and Cyprian. Many Church Fathers too: Athanasius, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Cyril. Today the ruins of the north African Church lie buried under the sand now trod by a population that is almost 100% Muslim. At least these ancient parts of the Church had the “dignity” of being conquered. We, it seems, at least in the Christian West, have prefered the more cowardly way of suicide instead of courageously living our Catholic Faith and insisting on its truth in the midst of ridicule and opposition.
A Very Different Future is on the Doorstep – Ah, but some may say, Msgr. Pope is bigoted in suggesting that there is anything wrong with Muslims replacing Christians. Well, I have nothing personally against the Muslims. I have just praised their zeal for their faith and zest for life. But the fact is, they do not, as a group, share our most basic beliefs and values. The Muslim World and faith are not known for accepting pluralistic societies. Religious tolerance is not a widespread concept among them. It could get very difficult for Christians and other religious traditions in the future. We just have to be sober about this. Western style democracy and Islam have had a troubled co-existence. It is not an unknown pair but it is rarer. Sharia law will likely replace many western notions of Law. And frankly, I wonder how much the cultures that replace the West will really care about environmental issues. I hope to be wrong about all of this but the world of the future is going to be very very different. And the future isn’t that far away. In less than 40 years France and most of Europe will be majority Muslim. The fact is I do love my Christian and Western Culture and DO want to preserve it. This does not make me a bigot. We have something worth saving, something different and to my mind much better than Islam. Western culture is ailing to be sure but if we can return to our Judeo/Christian roots there is something great to be saved and preserved. We ought to be alarmed to see our way of life so sick. We ought to seek healing from our God and hope to preserve the best of what we have achieved by God’s Grace.
Shame on Us – And we Christians collectively have brought most of this on ourselves. This has happened on our watch in a culture where Christians are the vast majority. We have ignored our own Christian tradition that forbids contraception and embraced the culture of death. It looks like we are getting just what we want: death and non-existence. The Church has warned us but we have rejected her teaching and, at least collectively in the West, seem bent on contracepting and aborting our selves right out of existence. Shame on us.
The Remnant – If you are reading this you may be an exception. There ARE Christians who still love life. My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their 6th child. My other other brother and his wife have three. Both famlies practice their faith. Perhaps you who read this are doing your part too. But too many Christians, too many Catholics have allowed themselves to be deceived, to prefer death to life.
The following video depicts the demographic implosion at work in Europe and other Western cultures. It presents some very sobering truth. Watch it if you dare. Share it if you care.
When you hear a phrase like “culture of death” do you think it seems a bit exaggerated? I tend to like to err on the side of optimism. However, that is sorely tested when I read stories like the one in today’s Wall Street Journal titled ” America’s Babies Are Ruining Everything.” Two researchers from Oregon State have written a study that suggests that having less children will greatly help reducing the world’s carbon foot print.
If you are someone who recycles, installs energy efficient windows, cuts back on the number of miles you drive in an energy efficient car, but chooses to have two children, you add nearly 40 times the amount of carbon dioxide emissions you had saved on the above measures. William McGurn writes “The basic premise of the study is that a person is responsible for emissions of his or her descendants.”
The Culture of Death
This kind of thinking is an example of what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI mean when they speak of a “culture of death.” This research wants us to believe that the world is worse off for the birth of children, that somehow we have to get serious about limiting births. Gases aside, Japan, China and Western Europe are facing serious societal problems for having encouraged or legislated the limiting of the number of children a family can have or limiting and placing a higher value on boy babies. This is a serious moral issues with a profound lack of faith at its foundation.
The Gift of Life
God is the author of life and so every human life is both intended by God and a gift. Surely, when God gave stewardship of the earth and its resources to man and woman, God envisioned a partnership in which life can flourish (human, animal and plant). To be sure there are serious challenges we face is making food, water and resources available to all people, but people on all sides of the political debate agree that there are solutions to those problems.
Going Green with God
Pope Benedict is committed to going green because it is the responsible stewardship to which God pledged us at the moment of the creation of man and because Pope Benedict knows that the only real reason for “going green” is to enhance the quality of life for all women and men and to exercise good stewardship of God’s gifts.
Witnesses to the Culture of Life
Learning about studies like this one, carefully reading the news, getting involved in the complicated process of healthcare reform and what it will say with regard to abortion, learning about euthanasia , getting involved in the same-sex marriage debate, is a responsibility of discipleship and in particular the lay mission and vocation. There are people in many segments of society who are chipping away fundamental Judeo-Christian values that have shaped our country from its beginning. We have be prepared to witness to the Good News and to the culture of life.