Pope Francis Said What? — Contraception and Catholic Doctrine

Pope Francis. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.

As well intentioned Pope Francis seems to be, he sure can generate a lot of misunderstandings of Church doctrine. I think it’s important to call out these instances and try to clarify them. After all, I don’t want the secular media, who aren’t the most Catholic friendly, having the final word interpreting the pope’s words.

While the pope’s supposed twitter war with Donald Trump has garnered a lot of attention, he also made statements about the use of contraception to combat the Zika virus in South America.  This didn’t get the amount of attention it deserves as it will live well beyond a few tweets between a presidential candidate and the pope. I fear the media will quote this in the future whenever the Catholic Church and contraception are mentioned.  Here’s the specific part of the transcript I want to focus on (bold is mine):

Paloma García Ovejero, Cadena COPE (Spain): Holy Father, for several weeks there’s been a lot of concern in many Latin American countries but also in Europe regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. There is anguish. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or else to avoiding pregnancy. As regards avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of “the lesser of two evils?”

Pope Francis: Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. It is to throw someone out in order to save another. That’s what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we are speaking in terms of the conflict between the fifth and sixth commandment. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.

Here’s the problem. Did Pope Paul VI actually permit nuns in Africa to use contraception? Pope Francis’ argument hangs on the premise that a previous pope had a doctrinally sound reason for doing so. Surely, Pope Francis can refer to some papal document from Pope Paul VI supporting this position right? But it looks like the pope has been hoodwinked by a Catholic urban legend. I came across a great article by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf that examined the root of the “Pope Paul VI permitted nuns to use contraception” myth.

English: picture of pope paul VI Español: foto...
English: picture of pope paul VI Español: fotografia del papa pablo VI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I encourage you to read the entire article, the tl;dr version is that the scenario of nuns in Africa using contraception was written as a hypothetical example in a theological article about the principle of double effect that was published two years before Paul VI became pope. Like any urban legend, it starts based on some actual event and then little changes to the details are applied.  Like a game of telephone, eventually the story the persists is nothing like the original. There’s even a similar version of this story except it’s St. John Paul II instead of Paul VI and Bosnian nuns replace African nuns.

I understand why the New York Times or the Washington Post may mistakenly report this myth as fact. After all, they probably think Nancy Pelosi is an authority on Catholic doctrine. But I would hope that the pope would be better informed and not repeat an urban legend as truth. What’s worse is that while the words attributed to Paul VI or St. John Paul II are myths, the words of Pope Francis are not. He actually said them and believes that they are rooted in Catholic teachings. I fear that over time the Paul VI myth will be replaced with Pope Francis’ own words.  After all, who needs to keep a myth alive when you have the words straight from the pope’s mouth?

The pope’s off the cuff statements create a challenge for those who want to show the world the reality, truth, and beauty of the Catholic Church.  When the truth in areas like contraception are blurred, it waters down the appeal of authentic Catholicism.  Going back to the book, Rome Sweet Home, that I wrote about recently, part of the reason the Hahn’s left the protestant church was because they started to see inconsistencies and too much gray area in the doctrine.  They saw the Catholic Church as an unwavering rock of well reasoned, biblical doctrine that created an opportunity to truly live in the fullness of God’s grace.  Catholic doctrine may not be the easiest to understand and follow, but at least it’s true.  Speaking of rocks, the office of the pope should be acting as the doctrinal cornerstone as Jesus commanded Peter.  That is why Pope Francis’ interviews, where he creates a lot of confusion, bothers me so much.  When the pope gives off the cuff comments, I feel like he weakens the divinely appointed role and power of the papacy.

Retable de l’Agneau mystique

Whenever I think of Church doctrine, my thoughts go towards the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the rosary — Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.  I think that one of the reasons God assumed Mary into Heaven is because her duties as our mother extended beyond her earthly life.  God chose her to be our mother for all ages to come.  And like a good mother, Mary desires us to know our faith and see its depth and beauty.  There is so much misinformation out there about the Catholic Church, both intentionally and unintentionally spread.  It’s our responsibility to learn all that we can so we aren’t led astray into a false or watered down sense of our rich faith.  Holy Mary, we pray to you for guidance to learn as much as we can about the Heavenly Kingdom you so greatly want us to enjoy.  Amen.

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Your Post Walk for Life Game Plan

March For Life 2009
March For Life 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Walk for Life came and went on both coasts and put up impressive numbers. 50,000+ people walked on the West Coast while tens of thousands braved blizzard conditions on the East Coast (in past years the east coast saw 250,000+ people in better weather). The number of people from all different backgrounds attending these events is something to be proud of. But these marches are only a start. After all, the last time I checked, the Constitution did not mention anything about voting via marches. I’m going to suggest some next steps we can all take to further the pro-life movement.

First and foremost, since this is a blog on the rosary, we should turn to prayer. Our actions are much more powerful when we start by asking God for His advice and guidance. Prayer, especially the rosary, can be thought of as calibrating our spiritual instrumentation to make sure our actions are actually following God’s Will and promoting His kingdom.

I came across this website started by Cardinal Burke where he invites us to join Operation Storm Heaven. The quick synopsis is:

During this Holy Year of Mercy, let us join Cardinal Burke in a spiritual crusade to storm Heaven with prayers to dispel confusion and: bring Hope to souls and minds throughout America and the world; provide spiritual support in the struggle against the temptations of discouragement; to protect our families and our Faith; to stop the advance of evil in our society; and to flood souls with Grace and Light and Truth.

The goal is to have 1 million+ Catholics praying the rosary on the first of each month. I would hope that as loyal RosaryMeds readers that you’re already praying the rosary much more frequently so remembering to pray on the first of each month should be no problem.

What does Cardinal Burke mean by confusion?  Consider this quote from the pro-abortion poster child, Nancy Pelosi.  “I’m with the program in terms of the Catholic Church,” she said as reported by LifeSite News when speaking about abortion.  Now think of how ill-informed people may read that and think that there is some moral wiggle room when it comes to abortion as well as other moral topics (Pope Francis’ off the cuff comments don’t help).  This is the type of misinformation we are up against and requires every Hail Mary you can muster to combat it.

English: Nancy Pelosi photo portrait as Speake...
If God has a plan everyone, He’s sure taking His sweet time with the one for Nancy Pelosi.

I encourage all of you to read and sign the petition to drop the charges against David Daleiden, one of the people behind the videos that exposed Planned Parenthood’s selling of aborted baby tissue. He’s being charged with trying to buy the baby tissue and yet Planned Parenthood isn’t being charged with selling it. Evidently the Houston grand jury that indicted Daleiden never read the pro-abortion manual about being subtle when being hypocritical.

David Daleiden made these undercover videos for The Center for Medical Progress which has been fending off Planned Parenthood’s lawyers since they released them.  In essence, they are fighting every pro-abortion politician in the federal government who are beholden or at least sympathetic to Planned Parenthood.  Since it is doubtful the CMP is going to get a fair day in court, I encourage you to make a donation to their legal fund.

Finally, keep this in mind.  Congress was able to pass a bill to defund Planned Parenthood of your federal tax dollars (something to the tune of a half billion dollars).  President Obama naturally vetoed the bill.  If we had a pro-life president then we would have struck a major blow against the abortion industry.  As we enter the primaries, keep that in mind as you cast your vote.  The next Congress and president may actually listen the the pro-life crowd and defund Planned Parenthood and maybe even change the makeup of the Supreme Court.  But that can only happen if we make it happen.

Your pro-life action plan:

  1. Pray and join Operation Storm Heaven.
  2. Sign the petition supporting David Daleiden
  3. Make a donation to the Center for Medical Progress
  4. Consider the pro-life credentials of those you vote into office

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What’s in a Name? Cecil the lion and the Natural Law

I tried really hard to avoid writing about Cecil the lion. Like many people, I don’t really see the point in big game hunting. But I also don’t understand how this one case escalated to international news.  I don’t know the statistics, but I assume big game hunting (legal and illegal) goes on all the time.  Why this case got so much attention beats me.  I then came across an article that summed up why maybe this lion story touched such a collective nerve.

Over at CatholicAllYear.com, Kendra wrote an article titled Why We Feel Better if We Care About Cecil the Lion.  She recognizes the human need to acknowledge universal truth in a world that tries hard to suppress it.  She writes:

A huge segment of our population has been struggling ever since they reached the age of reason to reconcile a personal disgust with the idea of abortion, with the loudly trumpeted demands that we all must recognize that it’s NONE OF OUR BUSINESS and we’d better just pipe down. Choice. My body. Reproductive freedom. It’s not really a baby. All of it has been shouted in the streets until two generations now honestly can’t tell right from wrong or good from evil.

The same goes for other evils we’re supposed to celebrate as choice: like euthanasia, and free love, and conceiving children in such a way as to necessarily deprive them of one or both of their parents.

Moral relativism denies a fundamental part of our Truth-seeking human natures. As human beings, we crave moral absolutes. We know somewhere deep down that there IS such a thing as wrong, such a thing as evil. And we want so badly to be allowed to point a finger at it, finally, that when poor, not-actually-all-that-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things Cecil the lion comes along, we can barely contain ourselves.

Here’s my take.  People are upset because unlike other animals killed by hunters, this lion has a name and a history.  Like we do with our pets, we personify Cecil so his killing strikes at the same parts of our emotions as a human being’s murder.  This personification is why we cry watching Old Yeller and the lack of it is why most of us don’t give a second thought to the thousands of animals that are killed every day for food.

This lack of identification is also why we don’t bat much of an eye over the evil of abortion.  Because it’s evilness becomes strikingly obvious when you realize that every abortion is a life lost.  Does the fact that the aborted life didn’t have a name or a history make it any less tragic when he/she is killed?  Are we as a culture so short sighted that we don’t understand that an aborted life would have had a name and history if we let him/her grow?  We’ve murdered millions of Alisons, Margarets, and Jakes.  We’ve murdered many successful doctors, writers, engineers, and scientists that the world will never know.  We’ve murdered millions of best friends, husbands, shoulders to cry on, mentors, and co-workers.  It’s shocking what something as simple as attaching a name to a life does to the perceived value of it.  In one case, attaching a name to an animal raises international outcry while not attaching a name to a human being allows the murder of thousands every day.

Early ultrasound
Dr. Sam Livingston, a promising young physician, killed and harvested for his organs

The RosaryMeds Prescription

Whenever the issue of abortion comes up as it is with the release of these shocking videos from The Center for Medical Progress and debates within the halls of Congress, the Second Joyful Mystery seems like an obvious mystery to meditate on.  Elizabeth exclaims how the baby in her womb leaped for joy at the sound of Mary’s greeting (Luke 1:44).  It’s not “the tissue moved” or “some cells divided”, but a baby leaped out of joy.  This mystery reminds us just how precious life is at every stage of development and that we are infused with a soul at the moment of conception.  We must pray for the conversion of souls and the conversion of our culture to acknowledge the inherent dignity of human life at all stages.

English: Statue of the Visitation in the Churc...
English: Statue of the Visitation in the Church of the Visitation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But let’s dive deeper.  What about this craving for universal truth that the CatholicAllYear article mentions?  What rosary mystery speaks to the importance of knowing what is right and wrong?  The First Luminous Mystery comes to mind.  When I meditate on this mystery, I remember that not everyone is baptized into the Catholic Church and yet everyone does have the God given gift to know what is inherently good and what is evil.  This is often referred to as natural law and it’s something God inscribes in all our hearts; both the baptized and the unbaptized alike.

We live in a culture that tries so very hard to deny this natural law and reject this gift from God.  When we pray the First Luminous Mystery, let’s remember to pray for the conversion of those who struggle in life because of their denial of truth.  We must also pray for the conversion of our world to one that lives in acknowledgement of natural law, not in denial of it.


 

Notice anything different on the RosaryMeds home page?  More news on the new Meditations link coming soon.

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Politicians: They Know Not What They Do

In my last article I discussed how the state of American political discourse has descended into a war of bill branding and news soundbites rather than discussion on Constitutional principles.  Specifically, I noted that large negative response many liberal politicians had on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.  Now it’s time to separate RosaryMeds from your run of the mill “this is what’s wrong with the world” blog.  While others report and complain about politics, I’m going to offer a solution — a prayer.  Specifically, let’s look at a mystery of the rosary for guidance in these worrisome times.

English: A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's...

When I read about just how zealously many politicians elevate the role of abortion in our society I think of the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns.  I think about how the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus in such a cavalier and dismissive manner.  Although they weren’t Jews, they must have known about the countless miracles Jesus performed which should have ringed warning bells that this wasn’t some mere criminal they were scourging and mocking.  The soldiers, Pontius Pilate, the Jewish leaders, and everyone else involved in crucifying Jesus must have had some inclination that they were playing with fire by so brashly mocking the Son of God.

When I think of the Patty Murrays, Nancy Pelosis, and Harry Reids of our government, I wonder how many of them deep down in their consciences know that they promoting a great evil by backing the pro-abortion lobbies.  Like the Roman soldiers that mocked Jesus, do they have some inclination of the seriousness of their actions?  If their promotion of abortion isn’t born out of pure ignorance, do they know they are playing with fire by acting contrary to their faiths and natural law?  Like the soldiers who got caught up in the moment of mocking Jesus, are some politicians so caught up in scoring political points with their base and lobbyists that they never stop and consider the ramifications of what they are doing?

When you pray the rosary, especially the Third Sorrowful Mystery, pray for those who so brazenly mock Jesus’ teachings for worldly gain.  Pray for their conversion and an awakening to the damage their behavior creates both to themselves and others.  Pray that you personally always remember Jesus’ teachings and not get caught up in behavior that runs counter to it.  It can be so easy to casually mock Jesus through seemingly little sins.  But those little sins can really add up and over time derail you from the path God sets before you.  Be aware of your behavior and find the courage to ask for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever you act contrary to your faith.

Our Prayer

Forgive those Lord who misrepresent Your teachings and hide Your truth in darkness.  We pray for their conversion much like how You touched the heart and mind of your servant, St. Paul on the road to Damascus.  May those who harm so many in their blindness of earthly ambition end up saving 100 times as many souls in their conversion.  We also pray that we may never take Your truth for granted and casually ignore it.  Holy Spirit and our Mother Mary, please give us the strength to honor our Lord Jesus Christ with a crown of good works, love, and charity and avoid crowning Him with the thorns of sin.

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Passing a Bill By It’s Cover — The State of American Politics

Yep, I’m getting political.  But please keep reading!  This does related to rosary prayer and meditation.  I know many people like to visit my blog to read little, witty observations and my analogies of rosary meditation to exercise, military mottos, movies, etc.  But we also have to remember that we practice our faith in the real world which produces real challenges.  I don’t want my articles to just become useless platitudes that don’t have any connection to the real world.  God calls us to live our faith publicly even in the face of hostility.  Fortunately, He gave us the rosary through his sacred vessel, our Mother Mary, to help us overcome the legions that stand against truth and love.

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands w...What has gotten my dander up recently is the response certain politicians had to the Supreme Court’sHobby Lobby” decision.  The high court ruled that the government cannot compel a private company to provide services that run counter to the owners’ religious beliefs.  It was a classic upholding of the Bill of Rights although it narrowly passed on a 5-4 ruling.  But this ruling set many politicians into a conniption fit especially Senator Patty Murray who introduced a bill named the Women’s Health Protection Act.”  However, a more apt name would have been the “Let’s Dynamite the Constitution and the Judicial Branch of Government Act.”  This bill aimed to not only reverse the Supreme Court’s decision but also eliminate the states’ right to legislate on matters regarding abortion.  Fortunately, the bill came up four votes short in the senate to move forward. Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report correctly called out this bill for what it was:

This push for the Women’s Health Protection Act is a p.r. stunt. It’s a meme push. The War on Women is coming to get you!!!!! Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the Obama administration have been such absolute failures that they believe their only hope is to scare women into believing that the GOP intends to drag women back to the stone age or worse yet, the 1950’s. This legislation has zero chance of even being introduced in the House of Representatives. So the Democrats will attempt to argue that Republicans voted against something as benign as the “Women’s Health Protection Act.”

This is my scary observation about the current American political climate — our politicians and the general voting public base discussion on very serious topics on the title of bills and evening news sound bites.  You no longer hear our politicians discuss the actual contents of a bill or whether it has a sound Constitutional foundation.  Instead, they do everything they can to push bills into laws regardless of their constitutionality because they know how hard it is to repeal it once it becomes law.  And so we see bills like the “Affordable Care Act“, “Women’s Health Protection Act”, “Patriot Act“, “Dream Act“, “No Child Left Behind”, “Security and Freedom Protection Act”, and so on.  George Orwell would have been pleased (maybe even a little shocked) how you can create a law to do almost anything as long as it has a catchy title that tugs at the heart strings.  After all, the media and political opponents can have a field day if they can label you as the person who stood against affordable health care, women’s health, or our nation’s security and freedom.  The fact that you may have very just and sound opposition matters not in the war of catch phrases.

A prayer please...

I said in my previous post that we need to continue to pray because so much of the freedom we enjoy often remains in place because of a few votes.  One justice made a difference in the Hobby Lobby decision.  If one of the five had swung and ruled against Hobby Lobby — puff!  Your freedom of religion would have been diminished that much more and it would set precedent for other cases to diminish it even further.  Think about what could have happened to your first amendment rights if one of the five judges who voted in favor of Hobby Lobby retired and replaced with someone who swung the other direction?

And remember Patty Murray’s bill that didn’t move forward because it was four votes short?  Do you know how easy it is to bribe four politicians?  They will keep trying to push something like that bill through in the future.  And that’s the problem — politicians only need to find that one opportune moment, one good sounding bill title, or that perfect soundbite (but never mind about the actual content of the bill) to put into place laws that will be nearly impossible to reverse.  Think about how long Roe vs. Wade has been law despite the growing scientific evidence that a fetus is a human being.  A politician or special interest only needs to get lucky once and political inertia takes hold.  Like a watchman in the night, we must continue to pray to prevent damaging bills from becoming law and never fall into hopelessness that our prayers don’t matter.

I have more to say on this topic, but I need to continue in a future article because this one is already growing long.  Please like and share this article with others.  Think of this article as a bill titled “The apple pie, fresh baked cookies, and grandma protection act.”  If you don’t “like” it then I will say that you stand against apple pie, cookies, and you grandmas.

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Big Wins for Life and Liberty!

We saw some huge wins for life and liberty this past week.  Texas governor, Rick Perry, signed into law a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and also sets tighter restrictions on abortion clinics.  Those restrictions are so tight that currently only 5 of the 42 active abortion clinics in Texas meet the standards.  There are some that ask, “why not ban abortion outright?”  Why 20 weeks instead of 19, 18, or 1?  Why allow any abortion clinic to remain open in the state of Texas?  Remember, you don’t change culture overnight.  The culture of death has been working their way through society for decades one law at a time.  And so it will take many years and many small victories for the culture of life to undo the damage.  In the meantime, rejoice over the new lives that won’t be prematurely killed because of this new law.  Let’s hear it for the culture of life!

Texas Governor 's signature.
Texas Governor ‘s signature. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a related note, the court granted retailer Hobby Lobby an injunction against the HHS Contraception Mandate.  Hobby Lobby is fighting the mandate on grounds that providing abortion services as part of their health plans violates their religious beliefs.  It looked like Hobby Lobby was going to face thousands of dollars in fines per day since the courts seemed to side with the Obama administration.  But now the courts are going to look into the matter more carefully and while they do so Hobby Lobby won’t face any fines.  The fight is just beginning, but at least it looks like there are cracks developing in the federal government’s push to trample our freedom of religion.  Let’s hear it for religious liberty!

English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio
English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember, there is still a long fight ahead of us.  It will require your prayers and your support.

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The Unborn — The Good, the Sad, and the Terrifying

Since this past week was the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision and pro-life week, my RSS feed was filled with articles relating to abortion, contraception, and reproductive rights discussion.  Since many of my feeds are from the Catholic News Agency, Create Minority Report, the Blaze, etc., many of the articles focused on the pro-life movement such as the marches in Washington D.C. and in San Francisco.  But I did also come across articles and news reports from “the other side” arguing the pro-choice viewpoint.  What I read was both sad and terrifying and really drove home our need to pray for our wayward brothers and sisters who cling to these radical abortion ideas.

My first journey down the rabbit hole lead me to Salon.com and an article titled “So what if abortion ends life?”  I knew I should have stopped reading the article right after “so what,” but I soldiered on.  The author, Mary Elizabeth Williams, says that the pro-choice side should just admit that a fetus is a human life but women should still have a right to an abortion anyway.  She argues (and not very well mind you) that referring to the fetus as a human life is some sort of scare tactic by the pro-life side.  She says:

We’re so intimidated by the wingnuts, we get spooked out of having these conversations. We let the archconservatives browbeat us with the concept of “life,” using their scare tactics on women and pushing for indefensible violations like forced ultrasounds. Why? Because when they wave the not-even-accurate notion that “abortion stops a beating heart” they think they’re going to trick us into some damning admission. They believe that if we call a fetus a life they can go down the road of making abortion murder. And I think that’s what concerns the hell out of those of us who support unrestricted reproductive freedom.

Yeah, I know.  She used the “terror of ultrasounds” card.  If you have the stomach for it, read the entire article.  It would almost make for great satire until you realize the author is being dead serious in her assertions.  I think the pro-life side can take comfort that the pro-abortion crowd is reduced to the grade school “so what?” defence since the ethical, philosophical  medical, and scientific arguments all lean towards the pro-life movement.  But it’s also sad that the pro-choice lobby can put up such a weak defence and yet the pro-life movement has to work so hard to change any laws to protect the most innocent amongst us.  But no one ever said the government creates laws based on logical and well-reasoned arguments.

Here’s a little bit of good news.  According to an article in Time magazine titled “What Choice?“, fewer people are even listening to the Mary Elizabeth Williams of the world.  The pro-choice movement is dying.  Just take a look at the numbers — 500,000 marched for life in Washington D.C. and close to 50,000 marched in San Francisco last week.  Only 300 people attended a city-sponsored Roe vs. Wade celebration in San Francisco.  I guess celebrating 40 years of murdering the unborn with Sandra Fluke wasn’t a great reason to break out the party hats.  Also, the pro-life movement is filled with new life as the younger generation chooses to embrace the fact that the unborn are human lives with meaning and deserve protection.  The pro-choice crowd just has “so what?”

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

A shrinking, yet still vocal segment of society has a chronic case of sowhatitis.  Symptoms include ignoring all scientific, medical, and philosophical evidence that prevents them from getting their way.  People with sowhatitis are seen in small groups and usually stay away from large crowds made up of younger generations.  I prescribe a healthy dose of meditating on the Third Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary — The Crowning of Thorns.  Remember, the Roman soldiers who mocked Jesus by crowning Him with thorns did not know what they were doing.  If their hearts were open, even the slightest, to Jesus’ message they wouldn’t have mocked Him so.  The pro-choice crowd finds themselves in a similar situation.  Many of them have such hardened hearts they are not aware of the mockery they make of their own humanity by advocating for the murder of the unborn.  The Roman soldiers did not see the greatness of Jesus and His message of love and compassion, but only saw a weak and beaten man who was an easy target for mockery.  Likewise, the pro-choice crowd does not see the inherit value of all human life but only see the unborn as a burden and abortion as a seemingly easy solution to eliminate that burden.  We pray the rosary for the conversion of their hearts and that we find the power and strength to continue fighting for what is right.

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Random Thoughts on Pro-Life Week

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision which made abortion legal at the federal level.  Because of that tragic decision, the pro-life community makes the week of January 22nd Pro-life week.  This week features prayer novenas, talks and lectures, special programs, and of course, marches throughout the United States.  Pro-life week is bitter sweet for me.  On one hand it is great to see the enthusiasm and faith of the pro-life movement as people come out and march in the tens of thousands both on our nation’s capitol and on the West Coast.  But it’s unfortunate that we need to assemble at all to remind our government and society of the value of human life.  Below are just some random thoughts about the pro-life movement, government, and abortions.  I hope this gets you thinking, but more importantly, I hope it gets you praying and acting.

English: Personhood Now! banner in front of th...

Pro-life week reminds me a little of Mothers’ Day.  People always say how it’s unfortunate that we dedicate one day to mothers since every day should be a mother’s day.  Similarly, it’s unfortunate that we dedicate one week or one day to acting on our pro-life convictions.  Every day should be a pro-life day!  However, there is one startling difference between the two events.  When you forget to call your mom or send her a card on Mothers’ Day, you have one upset person.  But she’ll live.  When you don’t stand up for the value of life, you have 330,000+ aborted human beings per year in the United States alone.  So remember your mom, but also remember your commitment as a Catholic (and as a member of the human race) to promote the value of all human life all year long.

To put into perspective the scale of the modern-day holocaust which is abortion, consider this.  Twenty six people were murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting.  That tragedy sparked a massive response from politicians in comforting speeches and calls for new gun laws.  Now take Planned Parenthood‘s abortion number of 330,000 a year or roughly 37 abortions every hour.  That means the same number of lives as the Sandy Hook shooting are murdered by abortions every 42 minutes, 24/7!  And yet, the response from the political class is silent.  No speeches, no national dialogue, no executive orders, and no one saying, “Not one more child!”  Politicians were saying that they would do whatever it takes to reduce the likelihood of another Sandy Hook.  Where’s the “doing whatever it takes” to protect an unborn life from being murdered every 90 seconds?

When Planned Parenthood boasts its yearly 330,000 abortions performed (which you, the taxpayer, help fund), that doesn’t take into account the 330,000 additional lives that are also shattered — those of the mother’s.  For every life that is murdered by abortion, there is someone who has to live with the consequences of that decision.  And you also have to throw in the fathers as well since many of them also have to deal with the reality of the abortion.  If you are taking into account other people negatively affected by abortions, you might as well consider the doctors and nurses that do the procedures.  Sure, the mother, father, and doctors’ lives may not suffer any consequences immediately.  But there is plenty of data and testimonies that show the long-term damage abortions have on parents both mentally and physically.  And then there is the long-term damage abortion has on society as we devalue human life in our laws and public consciousness.

Anti abortion rally in Washington, D.C. Decemb...

We live in a society where government is playing a larger role in our lives.  I’m not going to get into why I think that’s a bad idea in this post.  But think about all the money government spends.  We are in year five of trillion dollar deficits.  The government spends money on food stamps, cell phones, health care, backing mortgages, investing in “green” technology, bailing out industries, foreign aid, and thousands of other ways that will supposedly move the United States to stability and prosperity.  And yet, not a dime from those trillions is spent to provide solutions to handling unexpected pregnancies except for abortions.  Imagine the support we could provide those surprised expecting mothers if we took the funds to Planned Parenthood and wasteful government programs and spent that on pre-natal care, mental and spiritual support, housing, and whatever else is needed to foster the new life, not kill it.  And while I loath government getting involved in so many aspects of our lives, at least we wouldn’t be funding intrinsically evil acts.  If the government is going to take my money and spend it, it might as well be to support life, not destroy it.

In light of all these realities, your rosaries should be on fire from all the prayers that are needed.  Pray the rosary daily and remember your commitment to be pro-life.  And that doesn’t mean to be pro-life one week out of the year, but every day.  That also doesn’t mean starting a fight with your pro-choice co-workers or arguing with a pro-choice relative.  But it does mean that you defend and promote the value of life when you can.  We are all called in different ways to show God’s glory and the beauty of His creation.  For some it might be side walk counselling or praying in front of abortion clinics.  For others, it means giving to pro-life charities.  It might mean participating in the Walk for Life (West Coasters, see you Saturday in San Francisco).  Don’t know what your part is in this war?  That’s where praying the rosary daily will help.  Ask God for guidance and He’ll show you the way.

 

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Is Morality an “All or Nothing” Proposition?

I read many articles dissecting Paul Ryan‘s answer on the abortion issue in the vice presidential debate last week. Ryan’s response disappointed many people when he said he would support laws that outlaw abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Because he added that exception, many people dismissed his entire stance as not being genuinely pro-life. You can read more about it on the political blog or news site of your choice. But to me this appears to be one of many case where people dismiss someone’s intentions or efforts to do good (or reduce the amount of bad) because it doesn’t instantly bring about the fullness of Jesus‘ teachings. It seems like every election season there isn’t just a battle between two candidates, but also between the “all or nothing” and “incremental improvement” camps as well.

We have to be careful when evaluating people’s intentions to bring about an eventual good end. For example, someone’s moral position cannot introduce an evil as a way of bringing about good (“the ends don’t justify the means” argument). But often, like Paul Ryan’s approach, no new evil is introduced by reducing the number of abortions in the general case and making exceptions in the edge cases for now (with the possibility of tackling them later). It’s accepting a political reality that the greatest good comes about one step at a time and rarely happens all at once. Nearly everything in life comes about in steps whether it be education, physical skills, spirituality, laws, and culture.

In my opinion, the “all or nothing” approach comes from people who are trying to justify their support of a position the Church opposes by making some sort of shaky moral equivalence  It’s a convenient way of convincing yourself that all politicians are really just the same so it doesn’t matter in the moral sense who you support. For some people, since Romney and Ryan would not outlaw 100% of abortions right away, they are just as pro-choice as Obama and Biden so the is no moral difference between the two on the abortion issue. I feel silly just writing that and hopefully you feel silly reading it. But if you’ve been on the Catholic Answers forums long enough, that is exactly the type of false logic many people hold.

Taking the logic of the “all or nothing” crowd, why should we help the poor since we cannot eliminate poverty entirely? Why should we treat the sick if we can’t end all illness instantly? Why fight for reforms in the justice system since our legal system will never be perfect? Why fight for freedom and liberty for some people if we cannot free all people around the globe? We fight these battles because we know that while we cannot help everyone, we do help many. After all, what is charity but trying to make small differences in some people’s’ lives? While I would love to wake up tomorrow to a world where there are no abortions, I’ll take a world where there are fewer abortions tomorrow than there are today. And if we all have that mindset where we fight to reduce the number of abortions tomorrow (even if just by one) then one day we might wake up to a world where there are no abortions at all. And those we save along the way will turn out to be our neighbours, our friends, our co-workers, our brothers or sisters, maybe our spouse, our parents, and so many other people who touch our lives who otherwise would not exist if we rejected every measure to do good because it wasn’t the ideal solution.

What Does the Rosary Teach Us?

What does the rosary teach us about how to face these social, political, and moral issues? Does it teach us that we should keep fighting for what is right and make small gains where we can or should we accept nothing less than the ideal solution? Jesus taking up His cross in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery represents how the greatest good comes about one step at a time. Imagine how painful it must have been for Jesus, tired and beaten, to carry His cross to His crucifixion. Every second must have seemed like an eternity of anguish and despair. But Jesus showed resolve and determination knowing that His suffering was to bring about the salvation of all humanity.  Jesus’ Passion was a slow process that had its literal ups and downs but was always moving in the direction of redeeming all of humanity. And so we should remember this mystery when the things that we want and fight for don’t seem to come fast enough. We must remember that God‘s time is not our time. His plan may not necessarily be our plan. But we should all strive to live like Jesus in His Passion where we must endure the challenges and hardship understanding that living our faith is a process, not something that can happen instantly.

Icon of the Pentecost

Another rosary mystery that comes to mind when I think about how we must show patience for God’s plan is the Pentecost in the Third Glorious Mystery. When God sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles, the world did not instantly change that day. In fact, the outside world remained the same. And the Holy Spirit did not fill the apostles with the power to instantly convert all people to the fullness and truth of Jesus’ teachings. The apostles still had a long journey in front of them that would take them to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel. The Church continues that mission thousands of years later of converting one soul at a time. Jesus’ message of love exists today because the early Church showed patience and endurance in spreading the Good News and didn’t quit because they couldn’t instantly convert the hearts and minds of all humanity.

What are your thoughts? Should we accept small and sometimes imperfect solutions to problems or do we wait and accept nothing less than the ideal solution?

 

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