We continue our study today of a little-known and little-studied 1974 document from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled:
Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.
Today we turn our attention to the prophetic voice of the document, with commentary to follow:
17. Scientific progress is opening to technology – and will open still more – the possibility of delicate interventions, the consequences of which can be very serious, for good as well as for evil. These are achievements of the human spirit which in themselves are admirable. But technology can never be independent of the criterion of morality, since technology exists for man and must respect his finality. Just as there is no right to use nuclear energy for every possible purpose, so there is no right to manipulate human life in every possible direction. Technology must be at the service of man, so as better to ensure the functioning of his normal abilities, to prevent or to cure his illnesses, and to contribute to his better human development. It is true that the evolution of technology makes early abortion more and more easy, but the moral evaluation is in no way modified because of this.
25. A Christian’s outlook cannot be limited to the horizon of life in this world. He knows that during the present life another one is being prepared, one of such importance that it is in its light that judgments must be made. From this viewpoint there is no absolute misfortune here below, not even the terrible sorrow of bringing up a handicapped child. This is the contradiction proclaimed by the Lord: “Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5:5). To measure happiness by the absence of sorrow and misery in this world is to turn one’s back on the Gospel.
26. But this does not mean that one can remain indifferent to these sorrows and miseries. Every man and woman with feeling, and certainly every Christian, must be ready to do what he can to remedy them. This is the law of charity, of which the first preoccupation must always be the establishment of justice. One can never approve of abortion; but it is above all necessary to combat its causes. This includes political action, which will be in particular the task of the law. But it is necessary at the same time to influence morality and to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children. Considerable progress in the service of life has been accomplished by medicine. One can hope that such progress will continue, in accordance with the vocation of doctors, which is not to suppress life but to care for it and favor it as much as possible. It is equally desirable that, in suitable institutions, or, in their absence, in the outpouring of Christian generosity and charity every form of assistance should be developed.
A few thoughts…
Paragraph 17 especially hits home with the scientific and medical communities. We simply do not have the right to manipulate life in every direction simply because we have the means to do so. This factors into IVF and Embryonic Stem Cell experimentation, as well as developing prenatal diagnostic technologies whose sole purpose is eugenic in nature.
In 1983, the life expectancy of an individual with Down syndrome was 25 years. Today it is 60 years. It’s not a miracle, we just decided to treat them as we would any other human being. That leads to a consideration of one of the proabort’s greatest slurs:
We only care for the baby after it is born.
The paragraphs selected here highlight the great lie in that slur. In the document, the Church invokes the Law of Charity:
“But it is necessary at the same time to influence morality and to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children.”
“One can never approve of abortion; but it is above all necessary to combat its causes.”
Every human being is called upon in this document to do all that we can to assist families with those burdens that drive women to seek abortion as a desperate last measure. In that light, it would be a good idea to challenge the proabort, who utters the great slur against us, with a demand to know why they do not themselves join with us in supporting women’s most desperate needs, and why they only hold out death (along with a hefty fee for the abortion) as their sole contribution.
Finally, when the Bishops state in Paragraph 25, “To measure happiness by the absence of sorrow and misery in this world is to turn one’s back on the Gospel,” their statement deserves a long pause for consideration. In the Last Judgement scene of Matthew 25, Jesus admonishes that whatever we do for the least among us, we do for Him. To turn our backs on those who suffer, especially by murdering them, we commit spiritual suicide. The sufferings of others make demands on us, and in the America of the past 50 years, we have become an increasingly narcissistic and hedonistic society. We cannot stand imperfection in others, not because we are so compassionate, but because we are so bereft of Love.
Imperfection and need in others place demands on us. They draw from our time and material resources in proportion to the degree of imperfection and need. 53 million dead babies later, 93% of all Down syndrome babies aborted, and we see the extent to which American society has succumbed to mental illness and despair, we see the predatory nature of the abortion industry and how it has invaded and corrupted medicine, especially among the baby doctors, the Ob’s, who should be the greatest advocates of the unborn.
This document was a prophetic jewel, issued in 1974 when I was a freshman in high school. It has languished, relatively unknown to most Catholics for decades. Perhaps that’s not so bad. We now have the ability to guage the prophetic wisdom of the Magisterium through the perspective of hindsight.