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Posts Tagged ‘Pope John Paul II’

A few weeks before he was elected Pope in 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani gave an interview on the recent birth of Louise Brown, the world’s first test tube baby. Many on the left have long held that this revealed the mind of a Pope on the matter, and that had he lived, he would have taught very differently than did his successor, Pope John Paul II. It’s a desperate argument. It is clear in the argument that Cardinal Luciani goes out of his way to speak as a journalist and not a Cardinal (let alone, future Pope). He is clearly uncomfortable with the question being asked of him while he was hospitalized and away from his books.

Why his pontificate lasted only 33 days is a mystery. He gave us his refreshing smile in very turbulent times, and made way for the towering giant that was his successor, Pope John Paul II.

Medieval historian, Dr. Lori Pieper recently posted the interview on her blog, On Pilgrimage,I have long-sought this very controversial interview, and am deeply grateful to Dr. Pieper for having brought it to light. I present the article here, along with Dr. Pieper’s end notes.

Q. What is your opinion on the English baby girl conceived in a laboratory?

A. It is not easy for me to answer your question like this, on the spur of the moment, from the telephone in my hospital room, where I am now, without books that I can consult. And that is not the only difficulty. I have, in fact, read up to now only a few newspaper accounts about the “English test tube baby”; in order to make a judgment, in addition to what is in the newspapers, I would have to be acquainted with the scientific data drawn up by the two doctors who are the leading actors. (1) That is not all: at this moment, I am not speaking as a bishop, but as a journalist consulted by a colleague; in such a very delicate and almost new matter, I am also waiting for what the authentic magisterium of the Church will decide to say, after the experts have been heard. My answer to your question is therefore personal, at my own risk, and, I might say, in the form of a conversation.

Pope John Paul I

1. I share only in part the enthusiasm of those who are applauding the progress of science and technology after the birth of the English baby girl. Progress is a very fine thing, but not every kind of progress is helpful to mankind. The ABC weapons (atomic, bacteriological, and chemical) have been a kind of progress, but at the same time, a disaster for mankind. Even if the possibility of having children in vitro does not bring about disaster, it at least poses some enormous risks. For example: the natural ability to conceive sometimes produces, as a result, malformed children; won’t the ability to conceive artificially produce more? If so, won’t the scientist faced with new problems be acting like the “sorcerer’s apprentice,” who unleashes powerful forces without being able to contain and dominate them? Another example: given the hunger for money and the lack of moral scruples today, won’t there be the danger that a new industry will arise, that of “baby manufacturing,” perhaps for those who cannot or will not contract a valid marriage? If this were to happen, wouldn’t it be a great setback instead of progress for the family and for society?

2. From every side the press is sending its congratulations to the English couple and best wishes to their baby girl. In imitation of God, who desires and loves human life, I too offer my best wishes to the baby girl. As for her parents, I do not have any right to condemn them; subjectively, if they have acted with the right intention and in good faith, they may even have great merit before God for what they have decided on and asked the doctors to carry out.

3. Getting down, however, to the act in itself, and good faith aside, the moral problem which is posed is: is extrauterine fertilization in vitro or in a test tube, licit? Pius XII, in speaking of artificial fertilization in marriage, made, if I remember right, the following distinction: Does the intervention of the technician or doctor serve only to facilitate the marriage act? Or does it help to obtain the child by continuing, in some way, an already completed marriage act? No moral difficulty; the intervention can take place. Does the device, on the other hand, not help or prolong the marriage act, but actually exclude it or substitute for it? It is not licit to use the device, because God has bound the transmission of life to marital sexuality. So said Pius XII, more or less; I do not find any valid reasons to deviate from this norm, declaring licit the separation of the transmission of life from the marriage act.

John Paul I and the future John Paul II

4. “But,” I have read in some newspapers, “it is ridiculous to pose moral problems to those who are availing themselves of the magnificent conquests of science. And then there are the rights of the free individual conscience.” Fine, but morality is not concerned with the conquests of science: it is concerned with moral actions, through which people can make use of scientific conquests for both good and evil. As for the individual conscience, we are in agreement: it should always be followed: both when it commands and when it prohibits; the individual must, however, strive to have a properly formed conscience. Conscience, in fact, does not have the task of creating the law. It has two other tasks: that of informing itself first of what the law of God says: then of judging whether there is harmony between this law and a specific action of ours. In other words, conscience must command man, not obey man.

NOTES
(1) In fact, at the time of Louise’s birth, Steptoe and Edwards had not yet published an description of their procedures in a medical journal, which made many members of the medical community decide to suspend judgment on it. This was also why Luciani could not comment more precisely on the morality of the actual procedure used; this means also that he wouldn’t have known about the fact that more than one embryo is produced in the procedure, and the unused ones destroyed; which is in the eyes of the Catholic Church the taking of human life.

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APOSTOLIC LETTER
MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
ON THE
DIGNITY AND VOCATION
OF WOMEN
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE MARIAN YEAR

“This mutual gift of the person in marriage opens to the gift of a new life, a new human being, who is also a person in the likeness of his parents. Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman’s “part”. In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman “discovers herself through a sincere gift of self”. The gift of interior readiness to accept the child and bring it into the world is linked to the marriage union, which – as mentioned earlier – should constitute a special moment in the mutual self-giving both by the woman and the man. According to the Bible, the conception and birth of a new human being are accompanied by the following words of the woman: “I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord” (Gen 4:1).This exclamation of Eve, the “mother of all the living” is repeated every time a new human being comes into the world. It expresses the woman’s joy and awareness that she is sharing in the great mystery of eternal generation. The spouses share in the creative power of God!

“The woman’s motherhood in the period between the baby’s conception and birth is a bio-physiological and psychological process which is better understood in our days than in the past, and is the subject of many detailed studies. Scientific analysis fully confirms that the very physical constitution of women is naturally disposed to motherhood – conception, pregnancy and giving birth – which is a consequence of the marriage union with the man. At the same time, this also corresponds to the psycho-physical structure of women. What the different branches of science have to say on this subject is important and useful, provided that it is not limited to an exclusively bio-physiological interpretation of women and of motherhood. Such a “restricted” picture would go hand in hand with a materialistic concept of the human being and of the world. In such a case, what is truly essential would unfortunately be lost. Motherhood as a human fact and phenomenon, is fully explained on the basis of the truth about the person. Motherhood is linked to the personal structure of the woman and to the personal dimension of the gift: “I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord” (Gen 4:1). The Creator grants the parents the gift of a child. On the woman’s part, this fact is linked in a special way to “a sincere gift of self”. Mary’s words at the Annunciation – “Let it be to me according to your word” – signify the woman’s readiness for the gift of self and her readiness to accept a new life.”

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Pope John Paul II understood women, men, children and families with an almost supernatural degree of nuance. His writing is best savored slowly, so we’ll take our time going through his Apostolic Exhortation on the family as it is one of the definitive pro-life documents of the Church.

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO
OF POPE
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE EPISCOPATE
TO THE CLERGY AND TO THE FAITHFUL
OF THE WHOLE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON THE ROLE
OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
IN THE MODERN WORLD

The Situation of the Family in the World Today

6. The situation in which the family finds itself presents positive and negative aspects: the first are a sign of the salvation of Christ operating in the world; the second, a sign of the refusal that man gives to the love of God.

On the one hand, in fact, there is a more lively awareness of personal freedom and greater attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships in marriage, to promoting the dignity of women, to responsible procreation, to the education of children. There is also an awareness of the need for the development of interfamily relationships, for reciprocal spiritual and material assistance, the rediscovery of the ecclesial mission proper to the family and its responsibility for the building of a more just society. On the other hand, however, signs are not lacking of a disturbing degradation of some fundamental values: a mistaken theoretical and practical concept of the independence of the spouses in relation to each other; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship of authority between parents and children; the concrete difficulties that the family itself experiences in the transmission of values; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the ever more frequent recourse to sterilization; the appearance of a truly contraceptive mentality.

At the root of these negative phenomena there frequently lies a corruption of the idea and the experience of freedom, conceived not as a capacity for realizing the truth of God’s plan for marriage and the family, but as an autonomous power of self-affirmation, often against others, for one’s own selfish well-being.

Worthy of our attention also is the fact that, in the countries of the so-called Third World, families often lack both the means necessary for survival, such as food, work, housing and medicine, and the most elementary freedoms. In the richer countries, on the contrary, excessive prosperity and the consumer mentality, paradoxically joined to a certain anguish and uncertainty about the future, deprive married couples of the generosity and courage needed for raising up new human life: thus life is often perceived not as a blessing, but as a danger from which to defend oneself.

The historical situation in which the family lives therefore appears as an interplay of light and darkness.

This shows that history is not simply a fixed progression towards what is better, but rather an event of freedom, and even a struggle between freedoms that are in mutual conflict, that is, according to the well-known expression of St. Augustine, a conflict between two loves: the love of God to the point of disregarding self, and the love of self to the point of disregarding God.(16)

It follows that only an education for love rooted in faith can lead to the capacity of interpreting “the signs of the times,” which are the historical expression of this twofold love.
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Photo Via pictureparfaite.com

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The host of life issues, riotous and varied as they are, share a very simple common thread. We have forgotten who we are and what it is we are supposed to be about. Perhaps the most lost among us are the men. That’s a tough one for me to choke out, but fearfully accurate.

We have replaced one extreme, characterized by male dominance, with another characterized by female dominace. Both are hateful in God’s eyes. A look at 90% of TV sit-coms and advertisements shows men to be dumb, clueless, weak, homosexual (of the effeminate stripe, which is not characteristic of all gays), and for the most part aloof. Television both reflecting and sculpting reality.

Of course, any males exhibiting testosterone’s effects are usually males shown to be suffering from testosterone poisoning, blowing up half the world and having sex with half its women in the process. Where are the men in the middle? Where is marriage presented as something more than the extremes of gauzy romance or divorce court fodder?

Children don’t thrive on the margins. The men on the extremes harm children through their abdication of authentic masculinity. It is the men in the middle who appreciate their true dignity and that of their wives and of their marriages. It is the men in the middle who provide the genuine strength of character that nurtures children with firmness and principle.

Pope John Paul II saw that twenty-nine years ago when he wrote on the family. Here an excerpt directed at men.

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO
OF POPE
JOHN PAUL II
TO THE EPISCOPATE
TO THE CLERGY AND TO THE FAITHFUL
OF THE WHOLE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON THE ROLE
OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
IN THE MODERN WORLD

Men as Husbands and Fathers

25. Within the conjugal and family communion-community, the man is called upon to live his gift and role as husband and father.

In his wife he sees the fulfillment of God’s intention: “It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him,”(67) and he makes his own the cry of Adam, the first husband: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”(68)

Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: “You are not her master,” writes St. Ambrose, “but her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife…. Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful to her for her love.”(69) With his wife a man should live “a very special form of personal friendship.”(70) As for the Christian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting towards his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church.”

Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood. Above all where social and cultural conditions so easily encourage a father to be less concerned with his family or at any rate less involved in the work of education, efforts must be made to restore socially the conviction that the place and task of the father in and for the family is of unique and irreplaceable importance.(72) As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still prevails the phenomenon of “machismo,” or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships.

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God,(73) a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife,(74) by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church.

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In the great struggle between the Culture of Death and the Culture of Life, a propaganda war against the Church and her view of women has been waged with great success in many quarters. Several lies have become the food of feminists, a grotesque bread of life for their disciples to feed upon. Chief among these lies are:

The Church teaches that women are servile.

The Church teaches that sex is only for making babies.

The Church teaches that women have no place in the work force.

The Church teaches that men are dominant in marriage.

We also know that war has been declared by these lost souls on motherhood, fatherhood, babies, family and sacramental union in marriage.

This is the first of several articles that will systematically deconstruct the tissue of lies fabricated by the feminist radicals. We begin with the writings of Pope John Paul II, who loved women and was loved by them in return. From:

APOSTOLIC LETTER
MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
ON THE
DIGNITY AND VOCATION
OF WOMEN
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE MARIAN YEAR

“Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning”, the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings – not only towards her own child, but every human being – which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more. The man – even with all his sharing in parenthood – always remains “outside” the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own “fatherhood” from the mother. One can say that this is part of the normal human dimension of parenthood, including the stages that follow the birth of the baby, especially the initial period. The child’s upbringing, taken as a whole, should include the contribution of both parents: the maternal and paternal contribution. In any event, the mother’s contribution is decisive in laying the foundation for a new human personality.

“In God’s eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root…

“Unless we refer to this order and primacy we cannot give a complete and adequate answer to the question about women’s dignity and vocation. When we say that the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return, this refers not only or above all to the specific spousal relationship of marriage. It means something more universal, based on the very fact of her being a woman within all the interpersonal relationships which, in the most varied ways, shape society and structure the interaction between all persons – men and women. In this broad and diversified context, a woman represents a particular value by the fact that she is a human person, and, at the same time, this particular person, by the fact of her femininity. This concerns each and every woman, independently of the cultural context in which she lives, and independently of her spiritual, psychological and physical characteristics, as for example, age, education, health, work, and whether she is married or single.

“Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for “perfect” women and for “weak” women – for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal “homeland” of all people and is transformed sometimes into a “valley of tears”; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.”

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In the movie Pope John Paul II, actor John Voight plays the part of the Pope. In one scene, John Paul’s first trip home to Poland, a crowd has gathered outside of the window of his residence. John Paul climbs onto the full window to address the crowd. In his brief comments (true story), he says, “Allow Christ to Find You.”

That line lands like an atom bomb in the lives of all who seek, and all who are lost.

The work of salvation is not our own. It is not entirely up to us. It is God’s work.

Immediately after The Fall, God comes seeking after Adam in the Garden of Eden. “Where are You?”, He asks. God knew perfectly well where Adam was. The question was not for God’s information, but for Adam’s benefit. Though he sinned, God wanted Adam to know that he was still His son, that he was worthy of being sought out, that a Father’s love never fails.

God’s search for us becomes a constant, central theme throughout the rest of the scriptures.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that He is a Good Shepherd who leaves the flock to search out the lost and bring them back to the fold.

In Hebrews 3:15, we are admonished, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Indeed, what was the very purpose of the Incarnation?

But how do we “allow” Christ to find us? The answer is easier said than done.

We must stop hiding.

Lost sheep hide behind all sorts of rocks, trees, hedges… There’s no shortage of places we find to cower.

Pride, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, envy, sloth-the seven deadly sins, are a good place to focus. Replacing these with their associated opposing virtues is the work of Lent.

Lust-Chastity
Pride-Humility
Greed-Charity
Gluttony-Temperance
Wrath-Patience
Envy-Kindness
Sloth-Diligence

Then there is despair. We are often hobbled by guilt over what we have done. Jesus tells us in the parable of the Prodigal Son, how the Father is waiting on the road for his son’s return. When the disgraced son sees the father, he is consumed by self-loathing. The father, for his part, is consumed with joy over his son’s return.

Volumes can be written unpacking that one line from John Paul the Great. For us in the Pro-life Movement, we must first ensure that we have allowed Christ to find us, which means abandoning those hiding places that close us in and imprison us. That means not defaulting to our rationalizations when we do hear the Shepherd’s voice as He seeks us.

“The soul only communes with itself when the heart is stirred,” says Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism.

We must act on those stirrings. They are the leading of the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within, the Shepherd calling us by name and claiming us as His own. When we come out of hiding, we are better able to be enlisted to encourage others to do the same.

The Pro-life Movement is at its best when we not only champion the rights and dignity of innocent human life, but when we champion the dignity of our pro-choice brothers and sisters with equal fervor, when we advocate not only for ‘our side’, but for them as well. The voice of the Shepherd seeking them out with love.

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File photo of unknown event. Copyright © L'Osservatore Romano - Tutti i diritti riservati

From the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) #99:

“I would like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly.”

“If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.”

“With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”

~Pope John Paul II

I’ve included a side-bar panel titled Healing Post-Abortion for post-abortive women and men, or those who know them. There are wonderful ministries linked to there.

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