Dear HLI Family,
On the morning of June 2, 1979, Blessed John Paul II prepared to address his Polish brothers for the first time since becoming pope. Still suffering greatly under the yoke of Communism, the Polish people had been oppressed not only by the Soviets, but by the Nazis before them. Under both ideologies, oppression was widespread and extremely violent, and the distinctive and rich Christian culture of Poland was systematically attacked in an attempt to cut the people off from their roots.
Leading up to a visit that is now recognized as one of the most important events of the 20th century, John Paul considered some key questions with a depth of understanding born of tremendous personal suffering under both the Nazis and the Communists. What can be done against the seemingly overwhelming indifference and apathy toward God, family and the dignity of life? Is it possible to change the direction of a nation or people whose culture and behavior seem to be set in stone? Should we even try?
In his homily, on this first of nine visits to Poland, the Holy Father with love proclaimed to a people in darkness:
"For man cannot be fully understood without Christ. Or rather, man is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ."
He understood all too well the problem of his beloved people and he knew that the remedy for their predicament was to be found in a real encounter with Jesus Christ. His words pierced through the darkness overshadowing the people of God, and struck like an axe at the root of their enslavement. His homily resonated deep within their hearts and ignited a firestorm among a people who longed to be free. This firestorm brought change and renewal not only to Poland, but also, as history attests, to millions who were suffering from various forms of enslavement around the world. Truth brings freedom!
Oftentimes, modern day rhetoric cloaks man's nature and ultimate destiny in complete obscurity. Rooted in atheistic secular humanism, this obscurity portrays man in a false light, alienating him from his true identity, purpose and destiny. John Paul II, having lived under the opposed but similar tyrannies of Nazism and Communism, understood both how low a people can be brought, and also how the same people can rise if their God-given rights and dignity are recognized and protected. He believed that goodness and redemption are available to those who know and love their Savior; and the potential that can be realized by this love and knowledge.
The ideologies faced by John Paul II and the people of Poland may have passed, but new ones are taking their place all around the world. These ideologies come disguised as reformers, visionaries and champions of so-called social justice, but their ideas threaten to shackle humanity and lead it deeper into oppression. A culture based on anything other than God's design only alienates people from God and from each other, thus creating a Culture of Death.
The rekindling of hope in a people who were reconnected with their faith and culture, and the subsequent recognition of human rights, is a lesson we can still learn from today. Every person has a right to life. Every person has the right to authentic freedom. It is the government's job to protect our God-given rights and defend them against unjust aggressors, including the government itself.
There is certainly a culture war that is being waged today. In the crosshairs are the person and his inalienable and God-given rights. The innocent child, the elderly, the poor, the dying, the disabled and the traditional family are under attack. We have an obligation to protect them from ideologies that dehumanize; otherwise, one day the person or ethnic group caught in the crosshairs might be us.
The HHS mandate and the so-called "accommodation" are but an example of what happens when "progressive" secular humanism takes power and attempts to implement its agenda. Religious liberty is a stumbling block to its goals and it must be limited, if not completely abolished. Progressive secular humanists in this country revealed their agendas in Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decades ago. Now they wish to force a segment of the country to disregard their religious doctrines and conscience.
Their "accommodation" is no accommodation at all. Who will pay for the "free" contraception and child-killing drugs? Nothing is free. Let's not be fooled into thinking that the Obama administration has changed its mind and offered any sort of compromise. This administration has one of the most aggressively progressive agendas we have seen, and it will not compromise en route to implementing this agenda.
Imagine if they were to win this fight to force religious institutions to do what they cannot. What is next? Who is next?
Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International