Into the quagmire of modern secular society

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

Go ahead, read that again. I’ll wait.

That texts is no joke, not even a very tasteless one. It is an abstract of a paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. This is a serious proposal.

Newborns are somehow inferior to other human beings, the fact that they’ll grow into ‘normal’ people is irrelevant, and adoption is not always ideal, so it’s okay to murder a baby if we don like it.

Lord Alton, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group in the UK, has rightly said that this development, and the thought processes behind it, “illustrates not a slippery slope, but the quagmire into which medical ethics and our wider society have been sucked”.

A baby, not actually a human being, apparently.

The slippery slope that we are one, since we live in a society (especially here in the Netherlands) which allows the killing of children before birth, leads to a quagmire in which it is okay to kill a child at any age, since it is okay to do so until a random number of weeks after conception.

What will these lead to? From accepting killing the unborn, will we go to the killing of newborn, to the killing of anyone who is undesired?  What kind of sick situation are we in when it is even accepted to consider something like this? In the past, proponents of abortion hid behind the pretense that is was somehow for the best interest of the mother (and sometimes the child), but the authors of the paper linked above don’t even bother doing that. They essentially say that when a child is somehow undesired, or when raising him or her will somehow be difficult, due to whatever circumstances (not even necessarily related to  the health of the child), it should be allowed to murder it in cold blood.

Just exercising my right to kill, your honour. No big deal.

Make sure you also read ‘After-birth abortion’ is logically sound: that’s why it will boost the pro-life movement.


New cardinal on the block

The block being the blogosphere, that is.

More than once have I noted with satisfaction that an increasing number of cardinals are finding their way to social media and especially blogs, Twitter and Facebook. There are Cardinal Seán‘s weekly roundups of the things he has done and experienced, and Cardinals Napier, Ravasi and Scola on Twitter, to name but a few.

New among them i the archbishop of Washington, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, who started his blog Seek First the Kingdom on Sunday. Of the reason for starting his blog, he says, “What I would like to do in this blog is to talk about our Catholic faith, what it teaches, why it is so important, certainly to me, and why, I hope, it would be important to you”. A simple but lofty goal, and hopefully an example that more cardinals, bishops, priests and lay Catholics will follow. Let’s get our voice out there!

Afternoon reading: Signs for all time

In today’s Gospel reading at Mass, Jesus gets serious, even somewhat angry. Anyone who is a parent, will recognise this, I would imagine; the exasperation at a child who seems to be willfully ignorant of things you’ve told him countless times already.

“The crowds got even bigger and he addressed them, ‘This is an evil generation; it is asking for a sign. The only sign it will be given is the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of man be a sign to this generation.
On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will stand up against the people of this generation and be their condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, look, there is something greater than Solomon here.
On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and, look, there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Luke 11:29-32

Jesus refers back to two episodes from the Old Testament: the story of the Jonah and that of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10: 1-10). He compares the people asking for a sign of who He was, with these historical people: both believed something less greater than Him upon seeing it – Jonah’s call for repentance and Solomon’s wisdom. People did not continue asking for more signs of wisdom or proof of God’s anger, but at some point they believed in them.

Those signs, and more, are given for all time. They are related to us in Scripture and Tradition, and we are invited to take them seriously, to base our faith on them, just as much as on our personal relationship with God.

The Lord is not a magician who will perform the same trick over and over again. They are not tricks, even, and in a sense the refusal to keep giving signs is an indication of how seriously God takes us. He doesn’t tell us to sit back and let Him take care of everything faithwise. No, He gives us the means to do it for ourselves and grow in the process, just like a parent at one point allows their child to learn things by doing and so grow.

Art credit: “The Jews ask for a sign from Jesus”, woodcut by an unknown artist, published in Jerome Nadal’s Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (1593). In the background Jonah’s whale and the Queen of Sheba’s retinue are visible.

The leap year saints

Pope St. Hilarius

Every day in the Church is some saint’s day. There are so many of them, that not a day goes by or we don’t commemorate a handful, and that’s not even counting all those who we don’t know, but who lived no less holy lives. These feast days of saints are neatly structured according to the Martyrologium Romanum: each saint his own day (unless you’re the Blessed Virgin Mary, for example; she gets a bunch of feast days throughout the year).

Leap years are a bit problematic. According to the general logic of the martyrology, the saints whose feast falls on 29 February are commemorated only once every four years. And that won’t do, of course. A cursory search of the Internet reveals at least four saints whose feast day falls today, but they are all transferred from either yesterday or tomorrow. The Church seems to abhor a vacuum of saints on any given day, it would seem. Moved back from yesterday are, for example, St. Hilarius, pope from 461 to 468, and Saints Romanus and Lupicinus, two fifth-century hermit brothers in eastern France. Moved forward from tomorrow are, for example, Saint Albinus of Angers, sixth-century monk and bishop from Britanny, and St. Oswald of Worcester, tenth-century archbishop of York.

The Church may have been the instigator of our modern calendar with its leap years, but even she has to be creative when it comes to the feast days of saints.