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Archive for August, 2011

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:

Declaration on Procured Abortion

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.[26] 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.

More tomorrow…

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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:

Declaration on Procured Abortion

Read Part I here.

Today we turn to the document’s treatment of the Church’s varied voices on when the body is infused with a soul. This is critical, because so many proaborts look selectively to voices from within the Church that have fixed a point some time after fertilization. What they do not do is point to the universal condemnation of abortion at every stage, going all the way back to our most ancient document of apostolic teaching, The Didache (pronounced DID-a-kay), subtitled, The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.

Here are excerpts from the Declaration on Procured Abortion, followed by the footnotes from the text, and then a few words of analysis:

“6. The tradition of the Church has always held that human life must be protected and favored from the beginning, just as at the various stages of its development. Opposing the morals of the Greco-Roman world, the Church of the first centuries insisted on the difference that exists on this point between those morals and Christian morals. In the Didache it is clearly said: “You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb and you shall not murder the infant already born.”[6] Athenagoras emphasizes that Christians consider as murderers those women who take medicines to procure an abortion; he condemns the killers of children, including those still living in their mother’s womb, “where they are already the object of the care of divine Providence.” Tertullian did not always perhaps use the same language; he nevertheless clearly affirms the essential principle: “To prevent birth is anticipated murder; it makes little difference whether one destroys a life already born or does away with it in its nascent stage. The one who will be a man is already one.”[8]

“7. In the course of history, the Fathers of the Church, her Pastors and her Doctors have taught the same doctrine – the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion. It is true that in the Middle Ages, when the opinion was generally held that the spiritual soul was not present until after the first few weeks, a distinction was made in the evaluation of the sin and the gravity of penal sanctions. Excellent authors allowed for this first period more lenient case solutions which they rejected for following periods. But it was never denied at that time that procured abortion, even during the first days, was objectively grave fault. This condemnation was in fact unanimous. Among the many documents it is sufficient to recall certain ones. The first Council of Mainz in 847 reconsidered the penalties against abortion which had been established by preceding Councils. It decided that the most rigorous penance would be imposed “on women who procure the elimination of the fruit conceived in their womb.”[9] The Decree of Gratian reported the following words of Pope Stephen V: “That person is a murderer who causes to perish by abortion what has been conceived.”[10] St. Thomas, the Common Doctor of the Church, teaches that abortion is a grave sin against the natural law.” At the time of the Renaissance Pope Sixtus V condemned abortion with the greatest severity.[12] A century later, Innocent XI rejected the propositions of certain lax canonists who sought to excuse an abortion procured before the moment accepted by some as the moment of the spiritual animation of the new being.[13] In our days the recent Roman Pontiffs have proclaimed the same doctrine with the greatest clarity. Pius XI explicitly answered the most serious objections.[14] Pius XII clearly excluded all direct abortion, that is, abortion which is either an end or a means.[15] John XXIII recalled the teaching of the Fathers on the sacred character of life “which from its beginning demands the action of God the Creator.”[16] Most recently, the Second Vatican Council, presided over by Paul VI, has most severely condemned abortion: “Life must be safeguarded with extreme care from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”[17] The same Paul VI, speaking on this subject on many occasions, has not been afraid to declare that this teaching of the Church “has not changed and is unchangeable.”[18]

FOOTNOTES

6. “Didache Apostolorum,” edition Funk, “Patres Apostolici,” V, 2. “The Epistle of Barnabas,” IX, 5 uses the same expressions (cf. Funk, l.c., 91-93).

7. Athenagoras, “A plea on behalf of Christians,” 35 (cf. PG. 6, 970: S.C. 3, pp. 166-167). One may also consult the “Epistle to Diogentus” (V, 6 Funk, o.c., I 399: S.C. 33), where it says of Christians: “They procreate children, but they do not reject the foetus.”

8. Tertullian, “Apologeticum” (IX. 8 PL. 1, 371-372: Corp. Christ. 1, p. 103, 1, 31-36).

9. Canon 21 (Mansi, 14, p. 909). Cf. Council of Elvira, canon 63 (Mansi, 2, p. 16) and the Council of Ancyra, canon 21 (ibid., 519). See also the decree of Gregory III regarding the penance to be imposed upon those who are culpable of this crime (Mansi 13, 292, c. 17).

10. Gratian, “Concordantia Discordantium Canonum,” c. 20, C. 2, q.[2]. During the Middle Ages appeal was often made to the authority of St. Augustine who wrote as follows in regard to this matter in “De Nuptiis et Concupiscentiis,” c. 15: “Sometimes this sexually indulgent cruelty or this cruel sexual indulgence goes so far as to procure potions which produce sterility. If the desired result is not achieved, the mother terminates the life and expels the foetus which was in her womb in such a way that the child dies before having lived, or, if the baby was living already in its mother’s womb, it is killed before being born.” (PL 44, 423-424: CSEL 33, 619. Cf. the “Decree of Gratian” q. 2, C. 32, c. 7.)

11. “Commentary on the Sentences,” book IV, dist. 31, exposition of the text.

12. Constitution “Effraenatum” in 1588 (“Bullarium Romanum,” V, 1, pp. 25-27; “Fontes Iuris Canonici,” I, no. 165, pp. 308-311).

13. Dz-Sch. 1184. Cf. also the Constitution “Apostolicae Sedis” of Pius IX (Acta Pii IX, V, 55-72; AAS 5 [1869], pp. 305-331; “Fontes Iuris Canonici,” III, no. 552, pp. 24-31).

14. Encyclical “Casti Connubii,” AAS 22 (1930), pp. 562-565; Dz- Sch. 3719-21.

15. The statements of Pius XII are express, precise and numerous; they would require a whole study on their own. We quote only this one from the Discourse to the Saint Luke Union of Italian Doctors of November 12, 1944, because it formulates the principle in all its universality: “As long as a man is not guilty, his life is untouchable, and therefore any act directly tending to destroy it is illicit, whether such destruction is intended as an end in itself or only as a means to an end, whether it is a question of life in the embryonic stage or in a stage of full development or already in its final stages” (Discourses and Radio-messages, VI, 183ff.).

16. Encyclical “Mater et magistra,” AAS 53 (1961), p. 447.

17. “Gaudium et spes,” 51. Cf. 27 (AAS 58 [1966], p. 1072; cf. 1047).

18. The speech, “Salutiamo con paterna effusione,” December 9, 1972, AAS 64 (1972), p. 737. Among the witnesses of this unchangeable doctrine one will recall the declaration of the Holy Office, condemning direct abortion (Denzinger 1890, AAS 17 [1884], p. 556; 22 [1888-1890], 748; Dz-Sch 3258).

19. This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.

There are a few lines in all of that which jump out at the reader, and ought to be deployed as tactical weapons in our pro-life argumentation. Firstly, the last few lines of Paragraph 7:

“Most recently, the Second Vatican Council, presided over by Paul VI, has most severely condemned abortion: ‘Life must be safeguarded with extreme care from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.'[17] The same Paul VI, speaking on this subject on many occasions, has not been afraid to declare that this teaching of the Church ‘has not changed and is unchangeable.'[18]”

The quote about safeguarding from the moment of conception comes from the Vatican II document “Guadium et spes,” which, as a conciliar document is considered INFALLIBLE teaching. As such, it can never, ever change, which gives rise to the following quote from Pope Paul VI.

Next, it is worth considering footnote #19:

“on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.”

Thus speaks the Church. While there have been, and remain, different voices within the Church, the human organism from the moment of conception is presumed to be in possession of a soul. This cannot be overstated. In her wisdom, the Church grants the presumption of a soul from the moment of conception.

And therein lies a rhetorical dilemma when words such as conception and pregnant come into play.

The plain meaning of the words in their traditional usage are that a child is conceived at the moment the sperm penetrates the egg. When that conception occurs, the mother is said to be pregnant. Simple, right?

Wrong.

The rabidly pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, (ACOG)which is the official society of Ob/Gyn’s adopted an official change of lexicon thirty years ago that defines conception and pregnancy as both being synonymous with IMPLANTATION of the embryo in the uterus, an event that occurs several days after fertilization. Thus, proaborts will argue that even the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize that life begins at fertilization, because we state that the presumption of humanity begins at conception, an event that has been redefined by the proabort crowd.

It should be noted that the Declaration on Procured Abortion was written years before ACOG engaged in their verbal engineering.

More on this tomorrow…

Update: See Part III Here.

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There is a little-known and little-studied document from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled:

Declaration on Procured Abortion

In my reading of proabort arguments and pre-life rejoinders, it has become evident that most Catholics are not armed with the truths and rejoinders in this document. We’ll spend a few posts looking at key portions of the document and considering it’s prescience. The Declaration on Procured Abortion was issued in 1974 with the approval of Pope Paul VI who, like this document, remains underappreciated. Paul VI was a giant, squeezed between John XXIII and John Paul II, his Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, along with the Congregation’s Declaration on Procured Abortion laid the groundwork for John Paul II’s Papacy. From the document:

“14. Divine law and natural reason, therefore, exclude all right to the direct killing of an innocent man. However, if the reasons given to justify an abortion were always manifestly evil and valueless the problem would not be so dramatic. The gravity of the problem comes from the fact that in certain cases, perhaps in quite a considerable number of cases, by denying abortion one endangers important values to which it is normal to attach great value, and which may sometimes even seem to have priority. We do not deny these very great difficulties. It may be a serious question of health, sometimes of life or death, for the mother; it may be the burden represented by an additional child, especially if there are good reasons to fear that the child will be abnormal or retarded; it may be the importance attributed in different classes of society to considerations of honor or dishonor, of loss of social standing, and so forth. We proclaim only that none of these reasons can ever objectively confer the right to dispose of another’s life, even when that life is only beginning. With regard to the future unhappiness of the child, no one, not even the father or mother, can act as its substitute- even if it is still in the embryonic stage- to choose in the child’s name, life or death. The child itself, when grown up, will never have the right to choose suicide; no more may his parents choose death for the child while it is not of an age to decide for itself. Life is too fundamental a value to be weighed against even very serious disadvantages.”

As we battle the rising tide of eugenic selective abortions, this paragraph slams the door on the argument over the future happiness of the child and what it is the parent may, or may not, do to act in the child’s name. Then, addressing the legitimate claims of feminism, and its distortions, the Congregation has the following to say:

“15. The movement for the emancipation of women, insofar as it seeks essentially to free them from all unjust discrimination, is on perfectly sound ground.[22] In the different forms of cultural background there is a great deal to be done in this regard. But one cannot change nature. Nor can one exempt women, any more than men, from what nature demands of them. Furthermore, all publicly recognized freedom is always limited by the certain rights of others.

“16. The same must be said of the claim to sexual freedom. If by this expression one is to understand the mastery progressively acquired by reason and by authentic love over instinctive impulse, without diminishing pleasure but keeping it in its proper place – and in this sphere this is the only authentic freedom – then there is nothing to object to. But this kind of freedom will always be careful not to violate justice. It; on the contrary, one is to understand that men and women are “free” to seek sexual pleasure to the point of satiety, without taking into account any law or the essential orientation of sexual life to its fruits of fertility,[23] then this idea has nothing Christian in it. It is even unworthy of man. In any case it does not confer any right to dispose of human life – even if embryonic- or to suppress it on the pretext that it is burdensome.”

Pretty much speaks for itself.

Update: See Part II Here.
Update: See Part III Here.

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"Lion of Münster"

H/T to Deacon Greg Kandra who posted this yesterday on the 70th Anniversary of this Homily. This comes from historyplace.com which has an excellent repository of historical speeches and commentary. This homily, slightly reworded for current leaders is a commentary for our present age. For distributing copies of this homily, the Nazis beheaded three priests, but left the Cardinal alone for fear of making him a martyr. See the link for additional commentary before and after the homily. Now, the commentary and homily:

Commentary:

This is an excerpt of the sermon by Catholic Cardinal Clemens von Galen, delivered on Sunday, August 3, 1941, in Münster Cathedral, in which he risked his life by openly condemning the Nazi euthanasia program.

Code named “Aktion T4,” the Nazi program to eliminate “life unworthy of life” began on Hitler’s order in October 1939. The program at first focused on newborns and very young children. Midwives and doctors were required to register children up to age three that showed symptoms of mental retardation, physical deformity, or other symptoms included on a questionnaire from the Reich Health Ministry.

A decision on whether to allow the child to live was then made by three medical experts solely on the basis of the questionnaire, without any examination and without reading any medical records.

Each expert placed a + mark in red pencil or – mark in blue pencil under the term “treatment” on a special form. A red plus mark meant a decision to kill the child. A blue minus sign meant meant a decision against killing. Three +++ symbols resulted in a euthanasia warrant being issued and the transfer of the child to a ‘Children’s Specialty Department’ for death by injection or gradual starvation.

The decision had to be unanimous. In cases where the decision was not unanimous the child was kept under observation and another attempt would be made to get a unanimous decision.

The Nazi euthanasia program soon expanded to include older disabled children and adults. Hitler granted “the authority of certain physicians to be designated by name in such manner, that persons who, according to human judgment, are incurable, can, upon a most careful diagnosis of their condition of sickness, be accorded a mercy death.”

Questionnaires were then distributed to mental institutions, hospitals and other institutions caring for the chronically ill. A total of six killing centers were established including the well-known psychiatric clinic at Hadamar. The euthanasia program was eventually headed by an SS officer named Christian Wirth, a notorious brute with the nickname ‘the Savage Christian.’

At Brandenburg, a former prison was converted into a killing center where the first experimental gassings took place. The gas chambers were disguised as shower rooms, but were actually hermetically sealed chambers connected by pipes to cylinders of carbon monoxide. Each killing center also had a crematorium where the bodies were taken for disposal. Families were then falsely informed the cause of death was medical such as heart failure or pneumonia.

Homily:

Fellow Christians! In the pastoral letter of the German bishops of June 26, 1941, which was read out in all the Catholic churches in Germany on July 6, 1941, it states among other things: It is true that there are definite commandments in Catholic moral doctrine which are no longer applicable if their fulfillment involves too many difficulties.

However, there are sacred obligations of conscience from which no one has the power to release us and which we must fulfil even if it costs us our lives. Never under any circumstances may a human being kill an innocent person apart from war and legitimate self-defense. On July 6, I already had cause to add to the pastoral letter the following explanation: for some months we have been hearing reports that, on the orders of Berlin, patients from mental asylums who have been ill for a long time and may appear incurable, are being compulsorily removed. Then, after a short time, the relatives are regularly informed that the corpse has been burnt and the ashes can be delivered. There is a general suspicion verging on certainty, that these numerous unexpected deaths of mentally ill people do not occur of themselves but are deliberately brought about, that the doctrine is being followed, according to which one may destroy so-called ‘worthless life,’ that is, kill innocent people if one considers that their lives are of no further value for the nation and the state.

I am reliably informed that lists are also being drawn up in the asylums of the province of Westphalia as well of those patients who are to be taken away as so-called ‘unproductive national comrades’ and shortly to be killed. The first transport left the Marienthal institution near Münster during this past week.

German men and women, section 211 of the Reich Penal Code is still valid. It states: ‘He who deliberately kills another person will be punished by death for murder if the killing is premeditated.’

Those patients who are destined to be killed are transported away from home to a distant asylum presumably in order to protect those who deliberately kill those poor people, members of our families, from this legal punishment. Some illness is then given as the cause of death. Since the corpse has been burnt straight away, the relatives and also the criminal police are unable to establish whether the illness really occurred and what the cause of death was.

However, I have been assured that the Reich Interior Ministry and the office of the Reich Doctors’ Leader, Dr. Conti, make no bones about the fact that in reality a large number of mentally ill people in Germany have been deliberately killed and more will be killed in the future.

The Penal Code lays down in section 139: ‘He who receives credible information concerning the intention to commit a crime against life and neglects to alert the authorities or the person who is threatened in time…will be punished.’

When I learned of the intention to transport patients from Marienthal in order to kill them, I brought a formal charge at the State Court in Münster and with the Police President in Münster by means of a registered letter which read as follows: “According to information which I have received, in the course of this week a large number of patients from the Marienthal Provincial Asylum near Münster are to be transported to the Eichberg asylum as so-called ‘unproductive national comrades’ and will then soon be deliberately killed, as is generally believed has occurred with such transports from other asylums. Since such an action is not only contrary to the moral laws of God and Nature but also is punishable with death as murder under section 211 of the Penal Code, I hereby bring a charge in accordance with my duty under section 139 of the Penal Code, and request you to provide immediate protection for the national comrades threatened in this way by taking action against those agencies who are intending their removal and murder, and that you inform me of the steps that have been taken.”

I have received no news concerning intervention by the Prosecutor’s Office or by the police…Thus we must assume that the poor helpless patients will soon be killed.

For what reason?

Not because they have committed a crime worthy of death. Not because they attacked their nurses or orderlies so that the latter had no other choice but to use legitimate force to defend their lives against their attackers. Those are cases where, in addition to the killing of an armed enemy in a just war, the use of force to the point of killing is allowed and is often required.

No, it is not for such reasons that these unfortunate patients must die but rather because, in the opinion of some department, on the testimony of some commission, they have become ‘worthless life’ because according to this testimony they are ‘unproductive national comrades.’ The argument goes: they can no longer produce commodities, they are like an old machine that no longer works, they are like an old horse which has become incurably lame, they are like a cow which no longer gives milk.

What does one do with such an old machine? It is thrown on the scrap heap. What does one do with a lame horse, with such an unproductive cow?

No, I do not want to continue the comparison to the end–however fearful the justification for it and the symbolic force of it are. We are not dealing with machines, horses and cows whose only function is to serve mankind, to produce goods for man. One may smash them, one may slaughter them as soon as they no longer fulfil this function.

No, we are dealing with human beings, our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters. With poor people, sick people, if you like unproductive people.

But have they for that reason forfeited the right to life?

Have you, have I the right to live only so long as we are productive, so long as we are recognized by others as productive?

If you establish and apply the principle that you can kill ‘unproductive’ fellow human beings then woe betide us all when we become old and frail! If one is allowed to kill the unproductive people then woe betide the invalids who have used up, sacrificed and lost their health and strength in the productive process. If one is allowed forcibly to remove one’s unproductive fellow human beings then woe betide loyal soldiers who return to the homeland seriously disabled, as cripples, as invalids. If it is once accepted that people have the right to kill ‘unproductive’ fellow humans–and even if initially it only affects the poor defenseless mentally ill–then as a matter of principle murder is permitted for all unproductive people, in other words for the incurably sick, the people who have become invalids through labor and war, for us all when we become old, frail and therefore unproductive.

Then, it is only necessary for some secret edict to order that the method developed for the mentally ill should be extended to other ‘unproductive’ people, that it should be applied to those suffering from incurable lung disease, to the elderly who are frail or invalids, to the severely disabled soldiers. Then none of our lives will be safe any more. Some commission can put us on the list of the ‘unproductive,’ who in their opinion have become worthless life. And no police force will protect us and no court will investigate our murder and give the murderer the punishment he deserves.

Who will be able to trust his doctor any more?

He may report his patient as ‘unproductive’ and receive instructions to kill him. It is impossible to imagine the degree of moral depravity, of general mistrust that would then spread even through families if this dreadful doctrine is tolerated, accepted and followed.

Woe to mankind, woe to our German nation if God’s Holy Commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ which God proclaimed on Mount Sinai amidst thunder and lightning, which God our Creator inscribed in the conscience of mankind from the very beginning, is not only broken, but if this transgression is actually tolerated and permitted to go unpunished.

Cardinal Clemens von Galen – August 3, 1941

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It’s been a week since we returned from summer camp, and Joseph is only now coming to appreciate all that he has accomplished. Our troop is exemplary in following the Boy Scout program, and summer camp is as much a time for making great strides in rank advancement as it is in having fun. Every day begins at 6 A.M. with wake-up, a 7 A.M. Polar Bear Swim in the pool, followed by breakfast, and programming that runs from 9-12 where scouts work on merit badges, rank advancement, and do service projects in the camp. Lunch from 12-1, Instructional swimming or siesta from 1-2, more programming from 2-5, Retiring the Colors at 5:30 P.M., followed by dinner and open programming (swimming, rifle & archery range, boating, etc) from 7-9. Campfire and night meeting from 9-10, and then lights out.

I LOVE this generation of boys. We have a boy who is profoundly hard of hearing who misplaced his hearing aids during horsing around with water. They all stopped what they were doing and tore the camp apart searching for the missing hearing aids (cost: $4,000) They were about to uproot trees before the aids were found. Later that night at campfire this boy, with his speech impediment, led the entire troop in a silly song. All sang loud and applauded this boy even louder! As one of the assistant scoutmasters commented to me:

Second Class

“Where else could a kid like Mike (name changed) stand up and lead 52 other boys in a stupid song and be applauded, instead of ridiculed?!”

I answered with something that I’ve said here before, that this is the result of mainstreaming these children in our schools and in our troops. When this mainstreaming is combined with the Scout Oath, the lived reality becomes more beautiful than words can adequately describe.

I was in charge of thirteen first year scouts, including Joseph, and shepherding them through the first year, Pathfinder, program. The merit badges, ranks, and certification badges earned by Joseph at Summer Camp appear on this page. The program allowed him to complete the remainder of requirements he needed to advance to Second Class, and then to First Class (half-way to Eagle).

He also earned the First Aid, Mammal Study, and Indian Lore Merit Badges.

Additionally, he and his fellow Pathfinders worked hard at demonstrating proficiency at using a knife, axe, and saw efficaciously and safely and received their certification to use these tools without supervision. No small feat for 11 and 12 year-olds.

They also trained, practiced and demonstrated proficiency at building fires safely and efficaciously and received their certification to do that as well. These are indispensable qualifications for boys who camp out monthly. They build autonomy and responsibility at an early age, which in turn are the prerequisites for them to grow into and exert leadership roles as they advance in age and rank.

First Class

As with much high achievement, it takes some time for one to look back and realize all that has been accomplished. A twelve year-old boy has managed to complete the remaining half of the lengthy requirements to advance two ranks, earn three merit badges, two certifications in woodland skills, get elected patrol leader of his group for one of the daily slots, advance his swimming skills, shoot a rifle and bow and arrow, and live in the woods for a week.

Most of all he went boating on the lake one cool evening with his father who will cherish forever those two hours on the water where this twelve year-old spoke his young and tender heart about his hopes and fears, his aspirations and apprehensions, his joys and desires. He spoke with a clarity and level of insight that his father would not be able to muster until his late twenties.

I am amazed and humbled by Joseph and his peers. Humbled beyond description by their drive, their focus, and their charitable forebearance with other boys’ weaknesses. I’m also heartened that we have a brighter future with these young men. They get it. What is most extraordinary about Joseph and his accomplishments in light of his autism is that there is nothing extraordinary about Joseph and his accomplishments in light of his autism. Thousands and thousands of children on the autism spectrum accomplish high achievement in academics, sports, scouting, you name it. As we inch closer to prenatal diagnostic tools for autism, parents need to know of the Joseph’s among us, and that they are the rule for autism, not the exception.

Eight years ago, Regina and I embraced Joseph’s autism in the midst of absolute terror for his future prospects and uncertainty in our abilities to be equal to the task before us. But then we discovered the rich community of professionals who are there to take these children under their wings. They have worked miracles.

Yes, it requires a different sort of parental involvement and approach, a more intense focus. Worth it? Look at the badges on this page. They were earned following the same requirements as all other boys are held to. And…

Those two hours in that rowboat were like the Apostles’ experience on the mountain during the Transfiguration. They were a validation of the past eight years, and God’s promise for Joseph’s future.

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Deacon Greg Kandra carries a quote of the day on his blog. It comes from an article detailing the Navy SEAL operation on the night that bin Laden was discovered and killed:

At one point, Biden, who had been fingering a rosary, turned to Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman. “We should all go to Mass tonight,” he said.

A commenter on the blog questions the legality and morality of the order to kill bin Laden. The following is my response to both:

No, it was not a sin to order the death of bin Laden. The President, acting as Commander-in-Chief of a nation at war gave a lawful and moral order to take out the enemy Commander-in-Chief.

bin Laden was a legitimate military target in a just war. Given that the enemy has not surrendered, taking bin Laden alive would have resulted in an escalation in the amount of terrorism that would have occurred during his incarceration and trial.

In time of war, a president never has on his desk the option between nobody dying and somebody dying. His options are between a greater or lesser number of people dying, and he has a moral obligation to choose the lesser number of people dying, especially protecting the innocent and his own troops’ lives. bin Laden was the chief perpetrator and mastermind of the evil that dragged us into this war.

Killing him brought about the justice that was inevitable, especially in light of his confessional video detailing his plot to bring down the Trade Center. Delivering that justice on the battlefield in a manner that maximized safety for the SEALs, and minimized the probability of terrorist attacks meant to secure his release was the right thing to do.

As for Joe Biden fingering his rosary beads and suggesting that all go to Mass, his bishops are to blame for this man’s spiritual delusion, and the subsequent current state of his soul’s peril.

Joe Biden has been one of the key champions of protecting Roe v. Wade during his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee (1987-1995), especially in his presiding over the demonization of Judge Robert Bork during his nomination hearings. It was Biden who made Roe the litmus test for every Supreme Court nominee.

Biden has the blood of 53 million babies (and counting) on his hands. At some point a confessor needs to question Biden’s lack of firm purpose of amendment, which is indispensible for obtaining absolution. 3 1/2 decades of his obscene devotion to this slaughter is called a clue.

The real obscenity and irony is that Biden has helped to assure the deaths of millions, where Bin Laden never made it out of the thousands. Biden is fortunate enough to have had the law on his side.

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Noted Scripture Scholar, prolific author and authoritative speaker, Dr. Scott Hahn, of Franciscan University will be speaking at an all-day conference at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Hicksville, New York on September 3, 2011.

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