Status Quaestionis: The Contraception Mandate

PG 13

Maybe you, too, find it difficult to keep the central elements of this controversy in focus. With all due respect for ecclesiastical authority–and for all authorities on medicine, public health, and health-care finance—I would like to undertake an analysis.

Continue reading Status Quaestionis: The Contraception Mandate”

Jobs Program Proposal

You figure that a good number of potential job-creating entrepreneurs got killed in their mothers’ wombs back in the late 70’s and early 80’s?

And a lot of potentially flush consuming-spenders, too?

Maybe we face a stagnant real-estate market and a double-dip recession because we killed-off almost a third of the people who would be buying their first home right about now?

The Lord had a perfectly good plan for the U.S. to prosper in 2011 and 2012. We screwed it up by killing millions of the wallet-carrying people before they were even born.

The shot in the arm that this economy needs: Overturn Roe v. Wade.

March 25, 1995

Fifteen years ago, Pope John Paul II gave us his encyclical letter on the Gospel of Life. In this letter, the Pope coined the phrase, ‘the culture of death.’

Here is a short summary of the encyclical:

God gives us life. The innocent are always threatened by violence. In our day and age, the greatest threats are abortion and euthanasia. All Christians are bound to fight for the right to life. The Gospel demands that we be militantly pro-life.

In other words: We are a LAME Catholics if we do not adopt the point-of-view of the innocent unborn in all our political positions. We owe it to the innocent and defenseless unborn to stand up for them and to fight for them.

The fact that legislation in many countries, perhaps even departing from basic principles of their Constitutions, has determined not to punish abortion and euthanasia, and even to make them altogether legal, is both a disturbing symptom and a significant cause of grave moral decline.

Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.

Even certain sectors of the medical profession, which by its calling is directed to the defense and care of human life, are increasingly willing to carry out these acts against the person. In this way the very nature of the medical profession is distorted and contradicted, and the dignity of those who practice it is degraded. (paragraph 4.2)

The Kind Beginning of the Culture of Life

The Lord Jesus worked His first miracle in Cana, a small town in Galilee, near Nazareth.

Two months ago, I was in the town of Cana. All the couples in our pilgrim group renewed their wedding vows in the church built on the spot where the Lord turned water into wine.

Church of the Miracle at Cana

Then we went on to the Sea of Galilee, where we spent the day. In the evening, we got on the bus to head back to Nazareth, where we were staying. On the way, the perfect thing happened.

We had to pass through Cana on the way back. The region of Galilee is rural countryside. There are not a lot of roads, and the roads are narrow. The only way from the Sea of Galilee to Nazareth is through Cana.

So we drove back into Cana, and, like I said, the perfect thing happened: We got stuck in a traffic jam.

It took us 40 minutes to get through two traffic lights. There were just too many cars and not enough road. Rush hour in Cana of Galilee.

This was the perfect thing to happen. The miracles of Christ are things that really took place, in this very world of ours, where traffic also occurs. The world where Jesus worked miracles, and the world where you and I get stuck in traffic: It is the same world.

Alveda King

In the town where we sat at a red light for half an hour, the God-man went to a wedding of poor people.

The family had done everything within their means to provide for their guests. Now they were confronted with an embarrassing situation.

What Christ did for them is very revealing.

Let us first take note of what He did not do. He did not say, “It’s just as well the wine ran out, because these people have already had more than enough fun.”

No. He did not frown. He smiled. He turned water for ritual purification into an enormous amount of choice table wine. The joy and revelry did not end. The Son of God kept it going.

The fact that our Lord did this is revealing for two reasons. First: It reveals the kind of human heart He has. His Heart is generous. He does not measure His kindness. He does not give with one hand and take with the other. He just loves.

Bl. Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

The second thing His action reveals is even more profound. The loving kindness of Christ the man reveals to us the infinite divine love of Christ our God.

We can neither perceive nor imagine the love of God. God’s qualities are altogether beyond the capacities of our little minds. But the human love of Christ give us a glimpse of the ineffable divine love. One of the saints put it like this:

Nothing so much attracts our poor hearts as to contemplate Jesus Christ, true God as well as true man, translating the eternal goodness into human deeds.

In Christ, the unknowable eternal goodness turned water into wine for a poor family in the little town where we sat in traffic. We cannot know God by ourselves, dear brothers and sisters. But Jesus reveals Him. And we see the sweet truth: God is kind.

Now, it is no accident that this revelation took place at a wedding.

The Lord Jesus was not destined to marry on earth. He came to die for the sins of all the children of Adam and Eve.

But He worked His first miracle at a wedding to show us this: God loves marriage and child-bearing. Yes, when we are born, we are born sinners. But it is still a good thing to be born. The human race is meant to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth. Christ came to save everyone ever born.

The miracle at Cana, then, was the beginning of what we call the “Culture of Life.” Christ showed us that day: God wants babies to be born.

This is what the March for Life is about. It is a continuation of the wedding at Cana.

Speaking of births, yesterday would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 81st birthday. Dr. King has a niece named Alveda. She recently wrote the following message to us:

I work in the civil rights movement of our century — the right of every one of every race to live.

I am asking you to join me. Let me tell you why. Abortion and racism are evil twins, born of the same lie…

Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human…So it is with abortion.

Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit…So it is with abortion.

Racism is a way to gain economic advantage at the expense of others. Slavery and plantations may be gone, but racism still allows us to regard those who may keep us from financial gain as less than equals. So it is with abortion.

Listen: Dr. King was killed before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal on January 22, 1973. But you know that if he were still alive, he would be marching on Friday.

If any of us think that the pro-life cause is not our problem, not our fight to fight, we need to think again.

Dr. King would be yelling at us right now. He yelled a lot louder in the pulpit than I ever do.

He would yell, “Get yourself up! Stand up for what you know is right! Every little baby in the womb—every black one, every white, yellow, or red one—every last one has the right to be born!”

Hidden in the Womb

The Basilica of the Visitation

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb. –Luke 1:41

We all started off our lives in our mothers’ wombs. We were hidden from the eyes of men, but we were very much alive.

When St. John the Baptist was in St. Elizabeth’s womb, he realized that the Son of God had come to his house. In other words, St. John exercised his mission as a prophet even before he was born.

Christ Himself also exercised His mission before birth. At the moment the Lord Jesus was conceived, God first lived with a human soul. At that moment, Christ made an act of submission to the Father. The act is perfectly expressed in the words of the fortieth Psalm:

I waited, waited for the LORD, who bent down and heard my cry, drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp, set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps, and put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God.

Happy those whose trust is the LORD, who turn not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood…

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, “Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!”

Our lives begin at the moment of conception. Life begins to unfold in the womb. St. John’s mission in life was to point out the Lamb of God. He began to fulfill this mission even before he was born. The Lord Jesus’ mission was to offer Himself completely to the Father, to sacrifice Himself for the redemption of the world. Christ accomplished His self-offering perfectly even while He was still hidden in Mary’s womb. His 33 years on earth were simply a matter of living out what He had already resolved to do.

Continue reading “Hidden in the Womb”

Come, Let us Reason Together…

anselmToday is the Memorial of St. Anselm, champion of the freedom of the Church, of reason, and of human rights. St. Anselm saw to it that the Council of Westminster condemned slavery in 1102.

In honor of St. Anselm’s feast day, here is a little essay about faith, reason, and human rights…

Continue reading “Come, Let us Reason Together…”

Tough Loss for Livni, the Caps, Etc.

perez-bibPresident of Israel Shimon Perez nominated Benyamin Netanyahu to be the new Prime Minister. Tzipi Livni has refused to co-operate in a unity government. Netanyahu was Prime Minister before, in the late nineties.

May God grant peace and stability to Israel. Let us pray that our Holy Father will have a spiritually profitable visit in May–and our little band of pilgrims in November, too!

Continue reading “Tough Loss for Livni, the Caps, Etc.”

Presidents’ Day Miscellany

The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest is always better than the game itself.

The game, however, was okay. Kobe could not miss in the third quarter. (I only watched the third quarter.) It is absurd that 265 points were scored in one game. The 192 points scored in the Syracuse-Georgetown game on Saturday set a dangerous precedent.

Shaq went out with a bang. This was Shaquille O’Neal’s last of fifteen N.B.A. All-Star games. (He was voted onto the team fifteen times, even though he didn’t play all fifteen games, due to injuries.) Only Kareem Abdul Jabbar has been voted onto more all-star teams–seventeen.

Today at Holy Mass we heard the account of Cain and Abel from Genesis.

Continue reading “Presidents’ Day Miscellany”

Is There a Choice?

I think that everybody knows that I vote pro-life. No issue could be more grave than the protection by law of the innocent, defenseless unborn. I will vote pro-life until Roe v. Wade is overturned, until the day when, as the director of Vitae Caring Foundation Carl Landwehr put it in a speech I heard him give the other night, “abortion becomes unthinkable.”

As someone who shares in the shepherding ministry which the Lord entrusted to the Bishops of the Church, I hold myself responsible for clearly teaching not only that abortion is an evil of enormous gravity, but also that the right to life of the innocent unborn must be a part of the fundamental plan of any truly just society.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, formerly of Washington
Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, formerly of Washington
Considering all this, you would think that I would applaud the recent letter of our former Auxiliary Bishop Kevin Farrell, now Bishop of Dallas, and his brother Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth. These bishops spell out the morality of voting with admirable clarity.

They assert something, however, that I am afraid to say I do not think is true.

The Bishops carefully explain that the right to life of the innocent unborn is not a matter of prudential judgement, not something that can be weighed against other considerations. It MUST be decisive. Yes. I applaud the making of this crucial point. Thank God. This takes courage.

Then the Bishops go on to write that: “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil—and, therefore, morally impermissible.”

Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth
Bishop Kevin Vann of Ft. Worth
Now, morally impermissible means what it says it means. We cannot do morally impermissible things. If we do morally impermissible things knowingly and freely, our souls are in danger of damnation.

One can cooperate in evil in one of two ways, either materially or formally. Someone who vacuums the carpets in a medical office building where a doctor performs abortions participates materially in those abortions. But unless he intends to support the work of doing abortions by vacuuming the carpet, he does not formally cooperate. He might just be trying to earn a living, and this is the only job he could find. It is not a good situation, but at the same time it is not ipso facto a sin on his part.

If someone’s material cooperation in evil is “remote,” that is, not closely connected to the evil, then they do not bear moral responsibility for the evil.

Remote participation is permissible provided the person does not intend to be a part of the evil business. I could sin by intending to cooperate with something evil even if had practically nothing to do with it. An absurd example: If I planned to take a trip to a particular city BECAUSE they allowed same-sex “marriage” in that city, that would be a sin. But it is not a sin to go to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Anyone who votes for a pro-“abortion rights” candidate participates materially in the evil. But if the voter does not vote for the candidate for this reason, but rather votes for the candidate for another reason, he or she does not formally co-operate with abortion. I would think that the material cooperation of a voter in an election for the President of the United States is certainly far enough removed from actual abortions themselves to qualify as “remote.”

Therefore, it is morally impermissible to vote for a pro-abortion candidate BECAUSE he is pro-abortion. Likewise, it is negligent to vote without considering the gravity of the right to life of the innocent, defenseless unborn. But I think that it is incorrect to say that anyone who votes for Obama commits a sin.

It is clearly a sin to vote for him because he supports legal abortion. But there are other reasons why people might choose to vote for him. I do not claim to sympathize with those reasons; I would be delighted to argue them calmly.

I think people ought to vote for the more pro-life candidate.

But I am NOT telling anyone how to vote. My point is exactly the opposite. We HAVE to avoid committing serious sins. But we do not HAVE TO vote for one candidate or the other. What we have to do is to stand before God and do what we believe is right.

Archbishop Wuerl’s Points

 

 

 

 

Here are the points which Archbishop Wuerl asked all of us priests to make in our homilies at Holy Mass today.

1.  The Pope together with the bishops speak for the faith of the Catholic Church.  “For a Catholic, there are sure answers to life’s great questions.  Jesus offers them.  His Church proclaims them.  The bishops in their teaching office explain them.”  A well-formed conscience is our sure guide in making decisions.  A “well-formed conscience” is explained here:  http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect1chpt1art6.shtml

In the controversy about the morality of abortion, not all opinions have equal weight.  “Christ established in His Church the office of bishop charged with teaching and guarding the authentic faith.”

2.  Abortion is a great moral evil.  The Church has always taught that abortion is gravely immoral.

3.  Empirical evidence obtained by scientific investigation clearly indicates that human life begins at conception.  From the moment the sperm meets the egg, a member of the human race lives.  This is why not only abortion, but also embryonic stem-cell research (which involves killing the embryo), are gravely evil:  They involve the destruction of an innocent human life.