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.
Praise God! Our pro-life training
conference here in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania has been a great success.
Dr. Brian Clowes, Emil Hagamu and I have been sharing with regional
pro-life leaders what we've learned in our travels about the tactics
and well-known strategies of the population control industry and what
has worked in stopping them.
Getting to spend time with our country
directors from the region has been wonderful-Brian and I are uplifted
by their energy and inspired by their ideas. We have some powerful
partners, who, in collaboration with Mr. Hagamu, are spreading the
Gospel of Life and holding political leaders accountable. It is an
honor to serve in this mission alongside them, to add the knowledge of
the Church's social and moral doctrine with the reality of the fight
for life and family to their already flourishing faith and work.
It was also a joy to meet with Polycarp Cardinal Pengo, Archbishop of
Dar es Salaam; a consistent and strong defender of Christ and his
Church. When Cardinal Pengo was elevated to archbishop in 1992, he
announced his goal of expanding from 25 parishes to 100. There are now
101, and priestly and religious vocations are flourishing as well. We
visited one Church under construction that will accommodate over 1,500
Life and Family: Signs of a Living Faith
So, yes, you could say that the Church is
alive here! Even large parishes often have several Masses on Sunday,
each one filled to the doors. You should hear the singing! Many of the
seminaries are overflowing with young men eager to give their lives to
Christ in the priesthood. Shepherds like Cardinal Pengo and Cardinal
Sarah defend the Church and her teachings openly and without apology.
They often take time to personally spend time with the faithful in
parishes. Families have more children and there is much less divorce
than we suffer in the U.S. There are certainly social problems here,
not least of which is the extreme poverty that some suffer. The
billions spent annually by the "development" industry to attack life
and family have certainly taken a toll, but the Church and many
community leaders are putting up a brave fight. Simply put, the Church
in Africa is joyful and confident, alive and growing.
Contrast this picture with that of the
Church in Germany. A report was released by the bishops' conference
last Friday showing the catastrophic decline in Mass attendance, and
sacramental practice. This isn't exactly surprising, but it is very
sad. What was perhaps surprising to some was the statement put out by
the head of the German bishops' conference, which took the bleak report
as a sign that the Church in Germany is on the right track, that she
is a "strong force, whose message is heard and accepted."
So much could be said here, and it is
important that we don't leave charity aside as we consider what message
is being heard via the Church in Germany. There are undoubtedly a huge
number of factors and a lot of history behind these statistics, none
of which can be laid at any one person's feet. But charity does not
allow, much less require, intentional blindness.
We've heard quite a bit in the last few
years from several (not all) German bishops about how, when the Church
and the world disagree, it is the Church that must change to fit the
world. When settled doctrine makes the world and worldly uncomfortable,
the Church must, out of "compassion," put doctrine aside and devise
"pastoral practices" that are more welcoming to people who,
understandably, don't want to change their lifestyles.
In the World, Not of It
Saint Paul tells the early Church and us in Romans 12:
I appeal to you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be
conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and
acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one
among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,
but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of
faith which God has assigned him.
And this, from Our Lord in John 15:
If the world hates you, know that it
has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world
would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose
you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
This last passage comes from the famous
"love discourse" of St. John's Gospel. Jesus does not warn of the
world's hatred merely to provoke: He was telling His Apostles and us
the cost of loving Him. Can you imagine being among the Apostles when
Jesus was preparing them for what would be His greatest act of love,
His passion and death on the cross? They were in the presence of God
Himself, the Son who was already pouring out His Sacred Heart to His
friends, a group who could not yet understand all that was going to
Our Lord was not telling them to develop
more "sophisticated" pastoral tools to make their message seem less
offensive to a hostile culture. He was telling them to be ready to die
for love, because they would be living for Love Himself.
God or Nothing
I've been using Cardinal Sarah's book, God
or Nothing, in some of our reflections with the priests and seminarians
here in Dar es Salaam. One passage we have discussed comes from page
God is truth; through his Son, he
intends to draw us toward this truth. Attachment to and love of the
truth are the most authentic, the most righteous, and the noblest
attitude that a man could ever want on this earth. Conversely, the
absence of truth is man's real poverty, for the rejection of the truth
paralyzes and falsifies his activity. Thus, the man who is not in the
truth of God finds himself a prisoner of his own ego. Without truth, we
are strangers to ourselves, cut off from the depths of our being, cut
off from God, prisoners in our own darkness.
Where the Church insists that love be
united with truth, the Church is alive. Where the Church is alive,
families can flourish; chastity is joyfully lived, trumping the
incessant push for contraception and abortion. The Church does not
obsess over how to make the Gospel less offensive, she confidently
preaches the truth of Christ in love. She won't be given billions by
the government when she does this; indeed, she will often be hated by
worldly powers. But her churches will be full and she will have priests
ready to live and die for Christ and His people.
A Church Alive
We raise these points here not to shame
anyone or stoke controversy. Rather, we hope to challenge. Faithful
Catholics gain nothing when a nation sees a near complete collapse of
the faith, and we lose much-all of us. We need to pray unceasingly for
conversions inside and outside the Church, and for those souls who,
never having heard the truth, go looking for it elsewhere.
But let us learn! Where the Church
conforms to the world, she may become wealthy and powerful, but she will
hollow out from the inside. That's not what she was made for. When she
keeps her eyes on Christ and our eternal destiny, allowing His love
through His word, the sacraments, and loving service to one another, to
radiate into our present and transform lives today, she is alive and
growing. She will be a sign of contradiction to the world, a beacon of
truth and a target of attack. Her sign is the cross, upon which Love
died and defeated death, giving eternal life to all who Love Him.
The archdiocese here has grown from 25
parishes to 101 in less than a quarter century. I wish you could see
the Church alive here with me. I'll share more of our mission going
forward, and as always I am deeply grateful for your prayers and
financial support that makes our mission possible.
As the group prayed outside of the closed abortion mill for
the last time, Archbishop Wenski thanked the pro-lifers, including
those from VHI, for their help in shutting it down. Choice for Women
was unfortunately well known among Latin Americans-women were regularly
flown in from every South and Central American country to abort their
children in Miami. Since there are laws protecting life in about half
Latin American countries and laws restricting abortion in most of the
other half, the closing of Choice for Women was a huge victory.
Archbishop Wenski thanked God that, after nearly 15 years of rosaries and sidewalk counseling, Hispanic babies will not longer be murdered at this abortion clinic. - continue -
Send a reminder: Catholic=Pro-Life!
Get the latest fact-based brochure, Does Legal Abortion Save Lives, exposing the myth that abortion is healthy. Bulk discounts available.