whitesmokeahoy

Sunday, 29 October 2017

'The War against Abortion: No Exceptions! No Compromise!'




The Abortion Act was passed in the English Parliament 50 years ago this month. Since that date there have been nearly 9 million legalised abortions carried out in the UK alone. When the Bill was passed, we were assured that its main purpose was to protect the lives of pregnant women who died at the hands of 'back-street' abortionists. We were told that there was no question of abortion on demand, and strict rules and regulations were introduced relating to the conditions necessary for an abortion to be approved. The legality of an abortion had to be verified by at least two doctors, one at least having interviewed and discussed the implications of abortion with the woman concerned. Abortion was to be a reluctant and last resort. How things have changed! We have virtually 'abortion on demand', with those in position of power and influence in political and medical circles, now demanding that abortion be permitted on the unborn child up to full term! The horror and inhumanity of this is beyond belief, and constitutes a mockery of God's creation and a denial and hatred of God.


The following article by John Smeaton, Director of the 'Society for the Protection of Unborn Children' (SPUC) is taken from his talk at the 'Bringing America Back to Life' convention, organised by the Cleveland Right to Life' earlier this year. In his speech John pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. It is more than just an academic exercise, it is a militant call to action by a Catholic layman who has devoted his life unstintingly to the protection of the unborn.                      

                                 *********************


The war against abortion: No exceptions! No compromise!




The weekend before last, I had the privilege of addressing the Bringing America Back to Life convention, organized by Cleveland Right to Life. My talk was entitled "The war against abortion: No exceptions! No compromise". This is what I said:

I want to begin by giving you my definition of the pro-life movement. I would define the pro-life movement as follows: “People of good-will who adhere to the natural law written on their hearts and who organize themselves in one way or another to work to uphold both in law and in the consciences of mankind the value and inviolability of every human life” Amongst such people of good will, I would include, in particular, in my definition, faithful Catholics and faithful Catholic Church leaders. My reason for my singling out faithful Catholics and faithful Catholic leaders is as follows:-

As I said in my address on same-sex marriage to the Cleveland Right to Life Convention two years ago, over the past forty to fifty years in Britain and throughout the world, the pro-life movement has had some important achievements, it has saved many lives and it has protected the welfare of countless mothers and fathers. However, the most notable achievement of the pro-life movement is that we exist. Yes, pro-life organizations have enjoyed successes and saved lives. But, brutally, realistically, we’re tiny – compared with the overwhelming reach of the culture of death. Our international pro-life and pro-family movement cannot defeat the culture of death on our own –as the experience of so many countries all too eloquently and tragically testify, as, one after another, they succumb to pressure from the most powerful countries in the world to make abortion lawful for one spurious or unjust reason or another.

Pro-life organizations, our families and the wider community need urgently to be reinforced by the prophetic and unequivocal voices of Catholic Church officials, bishops and priests throughout the world preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ – for three reasons. Firstly, because without Christ we cannot do anything. Secondly, because the full Gospel message about the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the sanctity of human life, teaching which is also part of the natural law written on all human hearts, is, as St Pope John Paul II put it in his encyclical 'Evangelium Vitae', 'the source of invincible hope and true joy for every period of history', which priests and bishops, through the sacrament of ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy, have a God-given duty to proclaim, a duty recognized by the faithful and by many in the secular world too, for the sheep recognize true shepherds. Thirdly, the intimate connection between the truth and meaning of human sexuality and the sanctity of human life, is nowhere more fully spelled out than in Catholic teaching – and all people of good will are capable of understanding that intimate connection.

Therefore, the two top strategic objectives of the pro-life movement must be, firstly, to proclaim uncompromisingly the moral law on the sanctity of human life and on the truth and meaning of human sexuality and, secondly, to encourage and to assist bishops and priests who are prepared to act on their Christ-given mandate to lead mankind in that uncompromising proclamation.

The reason why bishops are especially needed in the proclamation of this Gospel, is that they, above all, are ordained for that role by Christ. As Pope John Paul II expressed in 'Evangelium Vitae':-
“Faced with so many opposing points of view, and a widespread rejection of sound doctrine concerning human life, we can feel that Paul's entreaty to Timothy is also addressed to us: ‘Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching’ (2 Tim 4:2).


Pope John Paul II continues: “This exhortation should resound with special force in the hearts of those members of the Church who directly share, in different ways, in her mission as ‘teacher’ of the truth. May it resound above all for us who are Bishops: we are the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of Life. We are also entrusted with the task of ensuring that the doctrine which is once again being set forth in this Encyclical is faithfully handed on in its integrity. We must use appropriate means to defend the faithful from all teaching which is contrary to it.”



     Pope John Paul II blessing baby in Sistine Chapel in 2002 on feast of the baptism of Our Lord (CNS Catholic Press)

To my good pro-life colleagues who argue that we should keep churches and, in particular, the Catholic Church, out of the pro-life battle, I respectfully put the question: “Have you truly understood our problem?”

Firstly, the destruction of human lives experienced during the past half century as a result of abortion alone is completely unprecedented in recorded human history.

Secondly, many of the moral principles by which people have lived throughout virtually the whole of recorded human history are being systematically outlawed by the legislatures of powerful nations, and unjust laws are being all but imposed on less powerful nations and States worldwide, as Obianuju Ekeocha of 'Culture of Life Africa' made clear in her stunning address yesterday. Think of the moral law that parents are the primary educators of their children; or of moral laws governing sexual behaviour; or of the increasingly successful efforts, in relation to the sanctity of human life, to outlaw medical professionals’ conscientious objection to abortion and euthanasia.

Thirdly, those same moral laws are being rejected in ordinary families worldwide, and the code of morality by which the overwhelming majority of people have lived throughout the history of Christendom is being transformed, including within our own Catholic communities and families, especially on matters relating to the sanctity of human life and sexual ethics. Think, for example, of the widespread acceptance amongst our Catholic families of cohabitation, of the acceptance or refusal to criticise homosexual relationships, of the acceptance of birth control including abortifacient birth control, of the acceptance of legalised abortion in certain circumstances, of the acceptance of explicit sex education in schools, and of in vitro fertilisation and euthanasia.

There is no way, humanly speaking, that pro-life groups on our own can reverse or move on from this great paradigm shift in our culture, a culture of death in which our children live and breathe.    Pro-life groups urgently require uncompromising moral leadership and teaching authority and all kinds of human and spiritual resources far greater than our own. This is a time of great hope for America and for the world. You have a president who appears to be absolutely committed to appointing judges to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v Wade. What a tragic, historic error it will be for America and for the world if pro-life leaders and church leaders do not use this miraculous moment to proclaim in their statements and policies support for State-wide legislation which seeks to defend, equally, the sanctity and dignity of every human life conceived, whatever the circumstances. 

My reading of President Donald Trump is that he hasn’t exactly been fainthearted in proclaiming his various policies, whatever anyone may think of this policy or of that policy – and as far as I know, he’s not believed by some to be a plaster-cast saint. Now that President Trump has put himself out there for unborn children and for their mothers, this is not the time for pro-lifers and church leaders to be fainthearted in the war against abortion, in proclaiming the moral law and the full truth about the sanctity of human life.

However, there’s a problem. The Catholic Church, the very body which by divine gift possesses that power of moral leadership and teaching authority to proclaim this message, is itself currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis of faith, which is resulting in terrifying confusion on even the most fundamental Catholic doctrines – such as the Real Presence, the sanctity of life and sexual ethics.

Arguably our top priority in the war against abortion, is to work to dispel this apparently almost overwhelming crisis of faith and its resultant moral confusion, found even among the Church’s most senior pastors, which obscures and distorts the Church’s beautiful teaching.

No less a person than St Pope John Paul II declared this to be a top priority.  In 'Evangelium Vitae' he writes:-

“We need to begin with the renewal of a culture of life within Christian communities themselves. Too often it happens that believers, even those who take an active part in the life of the Church, end up by separating their Christian faith from its ethical requirements concerning life, and thus fall into moral subjectivism and certain objectionable ways of acting. With great openness and courage, we need to question how widespread is the culture of life today among individual Christians, families, groups and communities in our Dioceses.”

What Pope John Paul II is clearly saying here is that we are living at a time in history when we need to question
 courageously, openly, and with love, what is happening in the Church,  including the need, clearly, to correct our pastors.

In raising our concerns regarding our pastors, of necessity sometimes publicly, we are fulfilling our duty as clearly laid out in the Code of Canon Law, which states:-
“According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they [the Christian faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Canon 212 §3)

In charity, as I say, we need to correct our pastors, including, at this particular time in history, our Holy Father, with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

On 1st September 2016, in a message to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis has said that he was “gratified” by the 'Sustainable Development Goals'. These goals call on member states to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health” by 2030. The term “sexual and reproductive health”, as generally defined, includes access to contraception, including abortifacient methods, and, often, other forms of abortion. 

In a message entitled “For the celebration of the world day of prayer for the care of creation” Pope Francis stated that he was “gratified that in September 2015 the nations of the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, and that, in December 2015, they approved the Paris Agreement on climate change”.



         'Christ's Agony in the Garden' by Andrea Mantegna c. 1460

The United Nation’s 'Sustainable Development Goals', agreed by nation states in September 2015, consist of 17 goals and 169 targets, which will determine the direction of international aid and action until 2030. These goals were endorsed by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The 'Sustainable Development Goals' call on member states to: “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs”
   
       

In addition, the Vatican has recently published a sex education programme to be used in educational institutions. This programme appeared after Pope Francis’s blunt call for sex education in his Apostolic Exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia'. The Vatican programme is appalling and plays straight into the hands of the pro-abortion lobby, who are using sex education programmes worldwide to introduce our children and our grandchildren to the culture of death, and to entrench abortion on demand for another generation.

I want therefore to move straight on to the matter of the sex education lobby, for the war against abortion not only depends on the unambiguous proclamation of the full Gospel message on the sanctity of human life and its implications, it also depends on our building an ever clearer understanding of how the culture of death develops its reign of darkness in the world.

In particular, we need to understand that, through the sex education lobby, our pro-abortion opponents are seeking to darken the consciences of the young generation on matters relating to the sanctity of human life. They are doing this through the classroom, and through a worldwide effort to destroy people’s understanding of Catholic teaching and of the natural law, also embodied in the 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights', and on parents as the primary educators of their children.

 For example, in 2011, at the 'Commission on the Status of Women' at the UN in New York, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council and other pro-abortion groups held a meeting to launch worldwide a massive programme of so-called comprehensive sex education entitled: It’s All One Curriculum". 

             
The curriculum shows itself to be nakedly polemical rather than educational. It states:
 “People can support or join movements for social change at the global level. For example: ...youth-led networks for sexual and reproductive rights and services."

 “Reproductive rights and services” is defined by IPPF and by western governments worldwide as including the right to abortion and contraception – unrestricted by the values or the faith of the teacher, and unrestricted by parents. Note carefully that international powers are not only opposing parents as the primary educators, they are seeking to manipulate young people so that young people see themselves as the educators of their parents.
On page 61 of their curriculum guidelines, they advise educators: “Certain social movements promote greater equality and dignity within marriage. These include: movements to legalize same-sex marriage"




                                               'The Holy Family' by Paolo Veronese

In the same document, International Planned Parenthood Federation tell teachers of young children that sexual self-abuse is a human right. They say:
“Sexuality may be expressed by oneself ... Sexuality, expressed alone...can be a source of pleasure and meaning in life."                "Masturbation is an important way that people learn about their bodies and sexuality ... Masturbation is a safe sexual behavior. It is neither physically nor mentally harmful."
          

In a thinly-veiled warning to teachers that they must not obstruct children’s so-called sexual rights, but that they must obstruct parents as the primary educators of their children, IPPF states in “It’s All One Curriculum”: "An educator’s own values should not interfere with teaching about sexuality ... Use respectful terms...particularly in regard to same-sex attraction, sexually active girls, and young people who do not conform to conventional gender norms ... Teachers must...respect their confidentiality."

The battle over the lives and consciences of our children and grandchildren is well advanced and, tragically, our opponents have the support of many bishops and bishops’ conferences throughout the world, as well as high level Vatican support in their efforts to undermine parents as the primary educators of their children worldwi
de, as I will continue to explain.


In November 2015 a workshop was organised by the 'Pontifical Academy of Sciences' which discussed how to “use children as agents of change” in pursuing sustainable development and the environmental agenda. One of the participants was Jeffrey Sachs, who has played a leading role at Vatican conferences and workshops on these matters no less than ten times in the last few years.

Jeffrey Sachs headed the 'Sustainable Solutions Network', which was involved in the process of drafting the 'Sustainable Development Goals' which call for increased access to abortion and contraception worldwide, under the guise of calling for “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights”.
In his book 'Commonwealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet' (2008) Jeffrey Sachs has made a plea for legalizing abortion as a cost-effective way to eliminate “unwanted children” when contraception fails.

The 'Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ workshop explicitly cited the papal encyclical 'Laudato Si', as the basis for its work, and in truth, such efforts seem to be endorsed by the encyclical (paras 13 and 209-215)

I repeat: the subject of the Vatican Workshop last November was “using children as agents of change” in pursuing sustainable development and the environmental agenda – an agenda which puts access to abortion and contraception as a top priority to be implemented by nations worldwide.


'Laudato Si' makes no reference to parents as the primary educators of their children. I foresee that using children as agents of change in pursuing sustainable development and the environmental agenda will very soon become a required part of school curricula throughout the world. Have no doubt that the worldwide population control powers-that-be, led by people like Jeffrey Sachs, will make their influence well and truly felt in shaping those school curricula. We are seeing exactly the same pattern here as I noted in the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s sex education programme 'It’s All One Curriculum', in which teachers are guided to manipulate young people in order that young people see themselves as the educators of their parents on making abortion and contraception freely available.

It is also gravely disturbing that the Apostolic Exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia' c
ontains a subsection bluntly entitled “The Need for Sex Education”, which is found in the chapter entitled “Towards the Better Education of Children”. It is of similarly grave concern that neither this subsection nor the wider chapter makes any reference to the role of parents in the provision of sex education; rather reference is made only to “educational institutions”. The clear implication is that sex education is something to be carried out by “educational institutions” and not by parents.
            

A brief reference to the general rights of parents as primary educators of their children can be found in 'Amoris Laetitia', but it is more than one hundred pages earlier, in an unrelated chapter, and makes no reference there to sex education. It is difficult to find a good reason to explain why this affirmation was not included in the twenty pages specifically about education, and particularly why such reference was excluded from the section on the “The Need for Sex Education”, given that it is in precisely this area that parental rights are both so endangered and yet so vital.
        

 Tragically, all too many bishops and bishops’ conferences around the world have allowed or encouraged sex education programmes in Catholic schools, which are designed to prepare young people for both access and use of the reproductive health industry.


The approach adopted in 'Amoris Laetitia' is already having devastating consequences on parents and children. Parents, I hear, were told by the diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, that they could not withdraw their children from a pornographic and morally corrupting sex education programme in their Catholic school. The diocese turned to the “imperatives ... reflected in Pope Francis’ recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia” to provide grounds on which to defend their “presenting” what they call “a clear, accurate explanation of human sexuality in the context of theology class”.

There is in fact, an urgent need today to reassert that sex education is, as Pope John Paul II taught in 'Familiaris Consortio', “a basic right and duty of parents” that “must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them.”

The pro-life movement, in its task of upholding the sanctity of human life in the consciences of mankind, must unite in mobilizing parents in defence of their children, and in defence of their role as primary educators of their children. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in the UK is seeking to mobilise parents to defend their role as their children’s primary educators through our 'Safe at School' project – which works by directly alerting parents and encouraging them to check what is being taught in their local schools. We are also doing so through our work in 'Voice of the Family', an international coalition of 26 pro-life and pro-family groups, lending our practical support to courageous church pastors, bishops and cardinals of the church, who are prepared, like His Eminence Cardinal Burke, to follow Christ and the injunction of St Paul regarding unity: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians, 4:5)

What else must the pro-life movement do to succeed in the war against abortion. My dear pro-life friends, we must be radical. We must get to the roots of the worldwide culture of death catastrophe we are experiencing.


I believe that the pro-life movement need urgently to study the empirical evidence which shows that one of the greatest catalysts of the culture of death has been the abandonment of the natural law relating to human sexuality and sexual ethics.


In her book, 'Adam and Eve after the Pill – Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution', Mary Eberstadt, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, describes the teaching of Pope Paul VI in 'Humanae Vitae' on the regulation of birth, published on July 25, 1968, as perhaps the most unfashionable, unwanted, and ubiquitously deplored moral teaching on earth


She then goes on to show that the teaching of 'Humanae Vitae' is actually the most thoroughly vindicated moral teaching on earth by the accumulation of secular, empirical, post-revolutionary fact. She cites Nobel-Prize winning economist George Akerlof, who in a 1996 article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, states “why the sexual revolution, contrary to common prediction …[has] led to an increase in illegitimacy and abortion”.

     
Mary Eberstadt, in her book 'Adam and Eve after the Pill' also says: “The years since Humanae Vitae have … vindicated the encyclical’s fear that government would use the new contraceptive technology coercively”.




  Pope Paul VI preaching in Nazareth on the feast of the Holy Innocents, January 1964.



In 'Humanae Vitae', Pope Paul VI prophesied that coercive birth control by governments would result from couples’ decisions, in the privacy of their married lives, to separate the procreative and unitive dimensions of the marriage act. When we consider the fulfilment of this papal prophecy, our minds naturally turn to China or to India or to other countries whose cruel policies are well known throughout the world. However, we should also think of our own countries: nations in which our pro-life movement has taken root – in the West, in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Once again, I refer to anti-life sex education programmes, which seek to eliminate the role of parents as the primary educators and protectors of their children? These programmes are intended to be a form of coercion on our families, funded and backed by our governments, and also tragically backed by all too many Catholic bishops in various parts of the world, including I am sorry to say in England and Wales, and they are resulting in schoolchildren being given access to contraception and abortion, including without the knowledge of their parents.


One of the world’s leading advocates of abortion, contraception and mass sterilization, Paul Ehrlich, was even invited to speak at the Vatican last month at yet another scandalous event held by the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science.

After two billion abortions and rising, the greatest slaughter in recorded human history, it is necessary that our pro-life groups, church leaders and priests urgently review the extent to which the separation of the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act has been a catalyst for the culture of death which is advancing in every nation on earth.

This separation of the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act is advancing the culture of death through contraceptive drugs and devices which, other than barrier methods, according to the manufacturers, include very early abortion in their modes of action.

This separation of the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act is advancing the culture of death through in-vitro fertilisation, which involves the instrumentalisation of the human embryo and the destruction or loss of up to 23 human embryos for every one baby born alive.

This separation of the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act is advancing the culture of death through same-sex marriage which, amongst many other things, makes it virtually impossible for pro-life movements to oppose in-vitro fertilisation without being seen as the enemy of those with homosexual inclinations who demand the right to a child through IVF procedures.

This separation of the procreative and unitive dimensions of the sexual act is advancing the culture of death through sex education,
so relentlessly promoted by powerful western nations, and by tax-funded non-governmental organisations, and, tragically and increasingly, by the surrender of the leadership of the Catholic Church – a surrender which is so completely devastating for our families.

The war against abortion, and to achieve lasting success for our pro-life political campaign, must be built on rock, on the natural law, a law which is written on the hearts of every man and woman, and a law which is confirmed by Catholic teaching and which binds human beings of all faiths and none.

Church leaders, local priests, 'Cleveland Right to Life' and my group, 'SPUC', and our many fellow pro-life groups worldwide, need also urgently to review the consequences of the abandonment of the natural law in relation to legislative campaigns and law-making. Indeed, I appeal to US pro-life leaders and church leaders radically to review strategic approaches to legislative campaigns and law-making. Given the scale of the catastrophe we are experiencing, in terms of the number of lives destroyed this past 50 years, the greatest catastrophe in the recorded history of humanity, we urgently do need to consider whether the more or less universal policy pursued by pro-life groups of campaigning for laws which expressly permit the killing of certain unborn children needs to be completely abandoned: for example laws which expressly permit unborn children to be killed in the case of rape, or disability, or before the human heart begins to beat.

Unjust laws which expressly permit the killing of babies for any reason contain the seeds of their own destruction. Neither the American people nor lawmakers will be convinced about the inviolability and sanctity of every human life if our witness to that is inconsistent.

In 'Evangelium Vitae', Pope John Paul II reminded the faithful that a law which permits the killing of certain unborn children, is not a law at all. It’s an unjust law which, in the words of St Thomas Aquinas “ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence” . Pope John Paul II, in this connection, cites the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and its 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion which states: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it" .


The meaning of this statement quoted in 'Evangelium Vitae', is 100% clear, and yet pro-life leaders, myself included in the past, have backed legislative changes which of themselves expressly permit abortion in certain circumstances on the basis that such legislative changes are an improvement on an existing law and will save lives. Campaigns for legislative changes of this kind send the message to friends and opponents alike that abortion can be the right thing to do. Is it not likely that one of the reasons why the evil of abortion is so overwhelmingly accepted in particular circumstances by our fellow citizens, including our fellow Catholics, is that pro-life groups have almost universally been prepared to accept legalised abortion ourselves in certain circumstances?

Many of us have justified our campaigns in support of unjust laws by quoting the very next paragraph of 'Evangelium Vitae',  where Pope John Paul II famously wrote: “A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on … In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

For over two decades perhaps the majority of pro-life and church leaders have interpreted this paragraph as meaning that politicians may vote for, and campaigners may campaign for, laws which of themselves expressly permit abortions. But this is contrary to reason. In the paragraph immediately preceding this one, Pope John Paul II wrote: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is … never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it".

According to Aristotle, in his Metaphysics, “the principle (or law) of non-contradiction is the firmest.” Aristotle says that “without the principle of non-contradiction we could not know anything that we do know” . On the basis of the principle of non-contradiction, therefore, it’s not possible for this statement to mean both that one can vote for an unjust law and, at the same time, that one cannot vote for an unjust law – on the basis of one’s motives in doing so or for any other reason.

In other words, pro-life leaders and philosophers need to stop tying themselves up in knots trying to work out what Pope John Paul II meant when he wrote about limiting the harm of existing legislation; instead, we should simply recognise and follow the unchanging and unchangeable truth taught by the Catholic Church that an unjust law ceases to be a law at all and becomes instead an act of violence for which it’s never permissible to campaign or to vote.




                          'The Crucifixion' by Mathias Grunewald (1515)

Imagine a member of a national legislature putting forward legislation to stop the killing of white children and doing so in a legal form expressly permitting the killing of black children. It would clearly be wrong to vote for such a law and to campaign for such a law, however many lives, allegedly, such a law might save.

I believe that the pro-life movement throughout the world should take careful note of the 'Stop Abortion Citizens’ initiative in Poland, which was supported by nearly half a million Polish citizens and sought to make abortion in Poland completely unlawful.

In launching their initiative, 'Ordo Iuris' and their pro-life allies were seeking to implement Article Three of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights which upholds the right to life.

Article Two of the UNDHR states “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” 

And Article Six states: “Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.” After the tragic experience of the Second World War and Nazi Germany, the drafters of the Universal Declaration wanted to ensure that legislators could never again treat a particular group of people as “non-persons”, such as unborn children.
The right to life of unborn children is also upheld in the 1959 Declaration on the Rights of the Child and in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child  -  
which states in its preamble: “Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth".

Currently Poland permits abortion in certain circumstances. The logical outcome of legalised abortion in certain circumstances is that abortion becomes available in all or any circumstances. The only thing which really protects society's weakest, most vulnerable human beings, are moral absolutes. Once legislators accept that it's OK directly to kill an innocent child in the womb, the defence against killing any unborn child is torn away.
 

What is being done in Poland by Ordo Iuris and their pro-life allies is to make the idea of stopping abortion completely in Poland completely normal - because it really is normal not to kill children. What Poland is doing, in its strongly pro-life culture, we must work towards doing in Britain, in America, in Ireland and everywhere.

The aim of the pro-life movement and Catholic Church and other Christian leaders must be openly to campaign for the end of all abortion, not only in our statements, but also in the legislative policies which we support.


'Ordo Iuris' with their 'Stop Abortion Initiative' has done what virtually no-one in 50 years of the pro-life movement has done. They have put before the world legislative proposals and a vision, a realistic vision based on the moral law written on human hearts, in which every single human life is guaranteed his or her right to life by law. It’s a vision which future generations will take for granted. Future generations will look back at what is happening today with horror and utter disbelief.



Now is the time for the US pro-life movement and church leaders to rethink their strategies which expressly exclude certain babies for protection. I am thrilled that Cleveland Right to Life and your fellow pro-life groups in your newly-launched Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio have seized this historic moment for America, with a president apparently committed to appointing pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, and you have decided to pursue the war against abortion with no exceptions and with no compromise. You have decided to build your legislative strategy to defend unborn children on the rock of the natural laws and not the shifting sands of political deal making. I am reminded of the words of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the Gospel of St Matthew Chapter 7, verses 24 – 27:

“Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shalle be likened to a wise man built his house upon a rock.

“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.
                                                                         


"every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand."

 "the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof”
                                            

Ack. John Smeaton.   Director 'SPUC' .

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The faith and courage of an abortion survivor.



I have just watched a 'youtube' video of a brave and Christian young woman, Gianna Jessen, testifying to the United States House Judiciary Committee on her experience as an abortion survivor after her mother attended a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic to have her aborted. Her testimony is factual and unequivocal, and I don't mind admitting brought tears to my eyes. Her forgiveness of her young mother is sincere and from her heart.
Gianna's testimony deserves to be heard, indeed deserves to be shouted from the housetops, so that the inhumanity and horror of abortion is seen to be what it is, and that one day, sooner rather than later, this evil will be recognized and condemned by all nations.
Let us pray to God, the Creator of all life, the Creator of the universe, for forgiveness for this terrible sin against His Omnipotence and against our own kind, and do what we can, each in his/her own way, to work towards the end of legalized abortion world-wide. 
Our Lady of Fatima exhorted penance and prayer, particularly the Rosary, as pleasing to her Divine Son.
The link to the video is immediately below. Please watch it, I challenge you not to be deeply moved, as I certainly was.
                                                                                                            https://youtu.be/I0Wwgh7kdKM 

                                                                                **************

"Let us be persuaded that the Lord does not demand from us great things, but only that we present to Him the little we do with a pure intention."   (Sept. 18)

ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus - for every day in the year' - compiled by Rev. C. McNeiry C.SS.R.

Monday, 14 August 2017

'Cohabitation' - for God's sake and your salvation, please be warned!

 

Over the past sixty years, the social acceptability of certain types of  behaviour has turned full circle, and is particularly true in relation to sexual behaviour of young people before marriage. Prior to the 1960's it was considered unacceptable that a young man and a young woman should live together before marriage. No doubt it did happen, but society did not condone it as it does today.  In our secular and materialistic society, young people no longer learn about God and the Ten Commandments, and instead adopt a life-style and morality based on those of pop stars, film stars, and other so-called celebrities, portrayed in the media as representing ultimate success and happiness, but in reality an enticing  mirage by which the young and impressionable are taken-in.  Sadly, such life styles, often without any moral backbone, prove superficial and destructive, and lead only to disaster.  The young and impressionable either do not see this, or choose to ignore it, until very late in the day,  by which time great damage has been done to their own lives. 
Some time ago there was an excellent article published by the Abyssum blog-site, in which the teaching of the Church on these matters was re-iterated in a Pastoral letter issued by the Bishops of Pennsylvania. This letter was written in 1991, but the Church's teaching on faith and morals does not change, and applies just as much today as it did then, as it has done since the time of Christ.

We kid ourselves if we think that our Catholic sons and daughters are somehow immune from the influences of their peers. Sadly it is a fact that cohabiting has become so common in our western society, that many young Catholics see nothing wrong in this, after all everyone does it. Of course they are wrong, but human weakness exploited by Satan and his worldly cohorts, leads to moral blindness and sinful lifestyle, which if persisted in, will ultimately lead to hell.

I reproduce the following article, with acknowledgement and thanks to Abyssum:-




'LIVING TOGETHER, SHACKING UP, COHABITATING, SERIAL FORNICATION, CALL IT WHAT YOU WILL, IT IS A SIN'




Living Together

Dear Engaged Couple,
We congratulate you on your engagement and want to offer a word of encouragement to you during this special period of preparation for marriage.
While there are many issues which you will discuss over the course of your preparation period, one important area in which many priests and couples have shared their concerns with us is that of engaged couples living together before marriage. While many in our society may see no problem with this arrangement, living together and having sexual relations before marriage can never be reconciled with what God expects of us.
In addition, countless studies have shown that couples who live together before marriage have higher rates of divorce and a poorer quality of marital relationship than those who do not.
Your engagement is meant to be a time of grace and growth in preparing for your marriage. In the months ahead, we urge all engaged couples who are living together to separate. All Catholics should seek to be reconciled with God and the Church by going to confession and by going to Mass and Holy Communion regularly.
Living chastely during your remaining months of engagement will teach you many things about one another. It will help you to grow in the virtues of generous love, sacrificial giving, self-restraint and good communication – virtues which are essential for a good and lasting marriage.
We pray that as you seek God and his way more deeply, you will be rewarded with an abundance of his grace. May your love for each other always be strong and life-giving.
With every prayerful best wish, we remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Bishops of Pennsylvania
September 1991
                                                                                       
                  'The Betrothal' - Rembrandt (circle of) c. 1640


                                    ******************

1. What is cohabitation?
“Cohabitation” is commonly referred to as “living together.” It describes the relationship of a man and woman who are sexually active and share a household, though they are not married.
2. Why is cohabitation such a concern for the Church?
As you work with your priest during this time of preparation for marriage, you will speak with him about many issues. But the Church is particularly concerned about cohabitation because the practice is so common today and because, in the long run, it is causing great unhappiness for families in the Church. This is true, above all, because – even though society may approve of the practice – cohabitation simply cannot be squared with God’s plan for marriage. This may be why most couples who live together before marriage find married life difficult to sustain for very long.
The Church does not invent laws. It passes on and interprets what God has revealed through the ages. No one in the Church has the right to change what Jesus has taught. To do so would be to deprive people of saving truths that were meant for all time. Our Christian faith teaches that a sexual relationship belongs only in marriage. Sex outside of marriage shows disrespect for the sacrament of marriage, the sacredness of sex, and human dignity.


3. We have good reasons for living together before our wedding. Why can’t the Church just accept that?

The Church cares for you as a parent cares for a beloved son or daughter. Knowing that cohabitation increases a couples’ chance of marital failure, the Church wants to protect you and preserve your happiness. Besides, most couples don’t really evaluate the reasons they give to justify their decision. Think about it:
     Reason 1: “It’s more convenient for us.”
“Convenience” is a good thing, but it’s not the basis for making a decision that will affect your entire life. Married life is sometimes inconvenient and even demanding. Cohabitation for convenience is poor preparation for that kind of commitment. Research bears this out. Studies show that those who live together before marriage tend to prefer “change,” “experimentation”and open-ended lifestyles – all of which could lead to instability in marriage. One study, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan, concluded that couples who cohabit tend to experience superficial communication and uncommitted decision-making once they are married. Cohabitation for convenience does not allow for the careful thought and adequate “space” necessary for making wise life decisions.
     
     Reason 2: “We’re trying to save money for the wedding, so living together is more economical.”
Sure, you might save the price of monthly rent, but you’re sacrificing something more valuable. Engagement is more than just time to plan the party. It is a time for deeper discussion and more thorough reflection, which are best carried out in a detached way. Couples who are living together do not have the luxury of such detachment. So whatever expenses you save, you’ll likely pay more in the end. Dr. Joyce Brothers said it well in an article on cohabitation: “short-term savings are less important than investing in a lifetime relationship.”
 
     Reason 3: “Because of the high divorce rate, we want to see if things work out first.”
Studies consistently show that couples who live together score significantly lower in both marital communications and overall satisfaction. On the surface, a trial run at marriage may seem to make sense, allowing one to screen out less compatible mates. But it doesn’t work out that way. Couples who live together before marriage actually have a 50% greater chance of divorce than those who don’t. And about 60% of couples who cohabit break up without marrying. Living together before marriage is different from living together in marriage, because there is no binding commitment to support the relationship.

     Reason 4: “We need to get to know one another first. Later we’ll start having kids.”
Cohabitation is actually the worst way to get to know another person, because it shortcuts the true development of lasting friendship. Those who live together before marriage often report an over-reliance on sexual expression and less emphasis on conversation and other ways of communication – ways that ultimately lead to a more fulfilling sexual union after marriage. Traditionally, the process of dating or “courtship” has led couples to a deeper appreciation of one another through conversation, shared ideals and dreams, and a mutual understanding of one another’s values.

     Reason 5: “The Church is just outdated and out of touch with its thinking in this matter. Birth control made those old rules obsolete.”
That’s just not true. In the early days of the Church, living together outside of marriage was common among the non-Christians in the Roman Empire – as was the use of artificial contraception. But these practices were devastating for individuals, families, and society. Women were treated as disposable objects, mere toys for sexual pleasure, to be discarded when passions waned. The Christian vision of marriage and family led to happiness and fulfillment for individuals and families – and a great renewal of culture and society. Far from being outmoded, then as now, the Church’s teaching is revolutionary – and it works!
                                      
                      'Wedding Ceremony' (1637-40) by Nicholas Poussin


4. Why does the Church interfere in the sex lives of couples? It’s really just a private matter between us.
Sex is intensely private and personal, but it also has deep moral and social dimensions. Sex works as a primary bonding agent in families and the family is the building block of society. Sexual rights and wrongs influence the health and happiness of individuals, families and neighborhoods. That’s why sexual behavior has always been the subject of many civil laws. The Church, of course, wishes to safeguard the family and society. But, more than that, the Church wishes to safeguard your relationship with your future spouse and with God. Sex is the act that seals and renews the couple’s marriage covenant before God. Sexual sins, then, are not just between a man and a woman, but between the couple and God. And that’s the Church’s responsibility. Sex is not simply a private matter. If it’s between you and God, it’s between you and the Church. You need to ask yourself: “When do I stop being a Christian? When I close the bedroom door? When does my relationship with God cease to matter?                    



                                                                       'Betrothal' by Raphael

5. But, really, how does what we do with our own bodies affect our relationship with each other and our spiritual relationship with God?
The gift of your body in sexual intercourse is a profound symbol of the giving of your whole self. In making love, the husband and wife are saying to one another in “body language” what they said to each other at the altar on their wedding day: “I am yours, for life!” God created sex to be physically pleasurable and emotionally fulfilling. But it is even greater than all that. It is, above all, the deepest sign of the complete gift of self that a husband and wife pledge to each other. This mutual gift empowers the couple to become co-creators with God in giving life to a new person, a baby. According to God’s design, the gift of sexual union has two primary purposes: strengthening married love and sharing that love with children. The only “place” where this total self-giving between a man and a woman is to take place is in marriage. It is the only “place” where children can be raised with the secure, committed love of a mother and a father. So sexual intimacy belongs only in marriage. Outside of marriage, sex is a lie. The action says: “I give you my whole self” – but the man and woman are really holding back their commitment, their fertility, and their relationship with God.
Before giving your body to another person, you need to give your whole life, and you need to receive your spouse’s whole life in return – and that can only happen in marriage.
                                      

                           Marriage of the Virgin  by Luca Giordano (1688)


6. Why can’t I just follow my conscience if I believe living together is okay?
People can be wrong in matters of conscience, and people often are. Where our self-interest is concerned, our capacity for self-deception is huge. Here, as in everything we do, we need an objective standard to tell us if our conscience is properly formed and able to make right judgments. Morality is not a matter of opinion or “gut feeling.” Conscience is God’s voice, speaking the truth deep within your heart. It’s unlikely – if not impossible – that God would contradict His own commandments just for your convenience or desires. You are acting in good conscience when you choose to do what God intends. The choice to live together outside a marriage is always wrong and sinful.
                               

                       Marriage Feast at Cana (detail) by Veronese (1563)


7. Why does the Church claim that living together is a scandal to others?
Many of our family and friends are doing the same thing. Just because everyone does something doesn’t make it right or any less serious. A couple’s choice to live together is not simply made in isolation. It affects everyone in relationship with these two people – parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and even other members of the parish. A cohabiting couple implicitly communicates that there is nothing wrong breaking God’s law. This can be especially misleading to young children – nieces, nephews, and children of friends – who are impressionable and whose moral reasoning is immature.
8. What is the best way to prepare ourselves spiritually for our upcoming marriage?
“A wedding is for a day, but a marriage is for a lifetime.” That can be a long and happy time, but only with good preparation. The best way to get ready for marriage is to practice your faith. Catholics do this by faithful attendance at weekly Sunday Mass, by going to the Sacrament of Penance (confession), by prayer, and by practicing works of charity. If you haven’t been attending Mass regularly, your parish priest will want to see you back. If it’s been a long time since your last confession, your priest will help you. Confession is a necessary step if you have already been cohabiting. During the days of preparation, you are strongly encouraged to pray together as a couple, read Scripture, and lead a virtuous life. For guidance, look to other couples with strong Christian values.

9. Why should we need to separate now? It’s just an arbitrary rule of the Church.

The Church’s teaching on cohabitation is not an “arbitrary” rule. Living together before marriage is a sin because it violates God’s commandments and the law of the Church. St. Paul lists this sin – technically called “fornication” among the sins (whether within or outside cohabitation) that can keep a person from reaching heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9) Cohabitation works against the heart’s deepest desires and greatly increases the chances of a failed marriage. If you are honest with yourself, every practical consideration will tell you that separating before marriage is the right thing to do. It is a decision to turn away from sin and to follow Christ and His teaching. That is always the right decision. But it’s a good decision for other important reasons, too:-it will strengthen your marriage -it will deepen your friendship -it will foster deeper intimacy and communion -it will build up your problem-solving and communications skills -it will give your marriage a greater chance for success. You may think you are unique and that your passion for each other will never wane. But that’s what most couples think. No one goes into marriage planning for a breakup; yet a majority of couples today do break up. You want to be one of the exceptional couples who not only succeed in marriage, but also live together in happiness and fulfillment. Some couples who are living together think that separation before marriage is artificial or meaningless. Some fear that halting sexual activity will be harmful to the relationship. But this is rarely the case. Sometimes in marriage, too, a sexual relationship will have to be suspended for a time due to illness, military service, business travel, or the good of a spouse. Relationships not only survive this, but actually grow stronger. God rewards such sacrifices with graces for a good relationship. Abstaining from sex will also enable you to rely on other means of communication, which ultimately will empower you to get to know each other in a deeper, lasting way.

St Aquila and his wife St Priscilla (patron saint for a good marriage)



10. What good will following the Church’s teachings do for us anyway?
Catholic teaching in this matter brings rich blessings to those couples who willingly accept it. The Good News of Jesus frees you to enjoy intimacy even more:
-by appreciating your spouse as a person, not an object
-by living in a stable, secure, permanent, and faithful relationship
-by expressing true, committed love rather than simply satisfying a physical urge
Married life has a special place in God’s plan. Like everything good, it require sacrifices. But they’re small compared to the rewards. Seek first the Kingdom of God; everything else you desire will be given to you – and more!

   Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St Therese of Liseux

                                           **************

Questions for Reflection and Prayer:

1. As an engaged couple, why did you choose to cohabit before marriage?
2. What have the two of you learned from your experience of living together? What have you learned about yourselves as a couple and as individuals?
3. What is the driving force behind your decision to marry at this time? What has changed in the relationship and made you wish to marry and have your marriage blessed in this Church?
4. Was there a previous reluctance or hesitation to marry? If so, why? Have those issues been completely resolved?
5. Why are you seeking marriage in the Catholic Church?
6. What does marriage as a sacrament mean to the two of you?
7. How do you see your faith and love for each other as an intimate part of your marriage?
8. How do you want your marriage to be open to life?
“At the beginning, the Creator made them male and female and declared for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. And the two shall become as one. Thus, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined.”
– Matthew 19:4-6
“The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws . . . God himself is the author of marriage.”
– The Church in the Modern World, Vatican II, 48
“The conjugal covenant of marriage opens the spouses to a lasting communion of love and life, and it is brought to completion in a full and specific way with the procreation of children. The communion of spouses gives rise to the community of the family.”
– Letter to Families, Pope John Paul II, 7
“Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses . . . is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death . . .That total physical self-giving would be a lie if it were not the sign and fruit of a total personal self-giving.”
– Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II, 11
“The spouses’ union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family. The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2363
“The very preparation for Christian marriage is itself a journey of faith. It is a special opportunity for the engaged to rediscover and deepen the faith received in Baptism and nourished by their Christian upbringing. In this way they come to recognize and freely accept their vocation to follow Christ and to serve the Kingdom of God in the married state.”
– Pope John Paul II, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.
                                         **************
"Dearly beloved reader, though you should live as many years as you expect, a day will come, and on that day an hour, which will be the last for you.  For me, who am now writing, and for you who read this little book, the day and the moment have been decreed when I shall no longer write and you will no longer read"
(Thoughts from St Alphonsus - compiled by Rev C McNeiry C.SS.R)
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