Were there to be no support in the whole history of ethical and moral thought, were there no acknowledged confirmation from medical science, were the history of legal opinion to the contrary, we would still have to conclude on the basis of God's Holy Word that the unborn child is a person in the sight of God. He is protected by the sanctity of life graciously given to each individual by the Creator, Who alone places His image upon man and grants them any right to life which they have.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Spirit and Life: A Return to the Beginning
A Return to the Beginning
the Lord God formed man out of the dust from the ground and breathed
into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
a Catholic priest of nearly twenty-one years and president of an
international pro-life organization, I am very concerned with the
results of two recent surveys. By their nature, these types of surveys
provide only a snapshot, and often hide an agenda, but I believe they
both demand a closer look given the societal pressures on the Church and
on the natural institution of the family.
The first survey is from the well-respected Pew Research Center,
revealing that 77% of U.S. Catholics polled believe the Catholic Church
should allow its members to use birth control, and that a majority
believe the Church should allow its priests to marry (72%) and want to
ordain women as priests (68%). The second was released by the German
Bishops Conference, its data reflecting a response to a Vatican survey
in preparation for the Synod on the Family in October. Though the survey
revealed that German Catholics accepted and respected the Church's
teaching on stable marriages and family life, it also revealed an
overwhelming rejection of the Church's teaching on pre-marital
relations, co-habitation, homosexuality and Communion for those who are
remarried after divorce. According to the survey, Germans found the
Church's teaching on sexual morality "unrealistic and heartless." The
bishops called the results "a sober inventory of what German Catholics
appreciate about Church teaching on marriage and the family and what
they find off-putting or unacceptable, either mostly or completely."
the results of these surveys accurately reflect the faithful of the
Church -- and let's face it, they are not very surprising -- then it is
clear that the Church has failed to communicate the Faith and influence
the culture. With skyrocketing rates of divorce and children born out of
wedlock, with co-habitation becoming the norm rather than the
exception, and with the ever-increasing acceptance among Catholics of
same-sex unions, the Church is most certainly suffering a crisis in the
rejection by the faithful of her teaching, leaving the faithful in the
same brokenness and confusion as the rest of society.
the smoke emanating from these surveys points to a raging fire being
stoked by the rejection of God, the failure of catechesis concerning
human sexuality and the sacrament of marriage, and concerning our nature
as human persons made in God's image called to be with Him for all
also troubling is that we are now hearing calls even from within the
Church to conform the "pastoral practice" of the Church to this
confusion and desolation. As if it is the Church's role to make those
who are truly lost feel more comfortable in their sin and error, rather
than offering them a voice of love in Truth, calling them back to God
and His plan for their true happiness.
want to ask those who are calling for the Church to reform her pastoral
approach in the direction of accepting the unacceptable the following
two questions: Is it not also true that most people have ignored or
rejected the Church's teaching on solidarity with the poor and the
universal destination of goods? And if this is true (clearly it is),
then should we not also set aside the Church's social doctrine in favor
of a more "pastoral" approach that avoids challenging the unjust
structures that tolerate or exacerbate extreme, dehumanizing poverty?
Catholics who recognize the absurdity of these questions might be
forgiven for wondering why the "pastoral" approach being proposed by
some with regard to sexuality and marriage is even up for consideration,
when the obvious consequences would be so grave.
the heart of these debates over such serious and deeply intertwined
social and moral issues is the false understanding of freedom. The
secular understanding, as we know, is that freedom means being absolved
from the natural consequences of one's own actions. Regardless of what
the surveys reveal, the Church must uphold true freedom -- a person's
will that is formed in love and truth, and free to choose what is truly
good -- and proclaim it in every generation, in season and out of
season, whether it is popular or unpopular.
challenge before the Church in this current crisis, as always, is to
speak with clarity to the transcendent nature of the human person. It is
imperative for the Church to recognize where the faithful truly are on
these issues, but in no way is it her job to simply make people feel
better about their illusions, or to support ever greater State-sponsored
programs to mitigate the logical social and economic consequences of
these destructive errors.
Human nature, marriage and the family are not mere human constructs. We have been made by God, for God. Jesus
reveals man to himself by taking him back to the very beginning -- the
origins of his creation -- and reintroduces humanity to its Creator. The human person, more than a mere biological creature, is only truly free when faithful to his created nature.
Pope Francis in his Lenten Message says it so well: "If
we think we don't need God who reaches out to us through Christ,
because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall.
God alone can truly save and free us."