Remembering the dead, not just a thing of the past

Yesterday I watched a movie befitting the national day of remembrance we mark every May the 4th in the Netherlands. Sarah’s Key deals with a journalist investigation into the fate of a French Jewish girl whose family used to live in the house she and her husband have just bought. The girl’s entire family was deported to and killed in the Polish death camps, but of the girl and her brother there is no trace in the records. A story, therefore, about a girl who was deemed unwanted, but fought and managed to survive her would-be captors and murderers’ efforts to see her dead.

One storyline deals with the lead character’s unexpected pregnancy. As she and her husband have tried for years to conceive and are now somewhat older than the average first-time parents, there is some conflict about what to do. She wants to keep the child, he pushes for abortion.

In a movie about the Holocaust this is an extremely poignant topic. The one lies in the past, the other is very current, but both are centered around death. Public opinion about the Holocaust is, rightly, one of horror and unanimous rejection, but abortion is extremely well-accepted in modern society: it is a medical procedure and an expression about a person’s control over and right to her own body. Or so many genuinely believe.

But put both side by side and compare them: the Holocaust was the conscious and wilful murder of persons that some decided were unwanted, not worthy of life and without a place in their world order. Abortion is the wilful killing of an unborn person that one or more people have decided is not wanted, should not be allowed to burden other’s lives and has no place in their world.

There may be seemingly mitigating circumstances in many cases of abortion, but those guilty of the Holocaust would have said the very same thing. “We had no choice, we were under orders, what could I do?” Today we hear, “I can’t take care of a child, there is no place for a child in my life at this moment, I have no choice.” And so human lives are daily sacrificed to other people’s rights, choices and (perceived) limitations.

When talking about the Holocaust we do not accept this: the murder of countless people is not suddenly alright because others wanted to exercise their rights or choices, and not even because they were forced to. The murders are not suddenly okay.

The same should be true when we talk about abortion (and, for that matter, euthanasia). Murder is never alright. Mitigating circumstances don’t make it so. It is certainly never a clinical procedure, an industry as the Holocaust was in the past, and abortion is today.

Remembering the dead, as we did yesterday in this country, must never be a safe ritual which only refers to the past. There are organisations which rightly emphasise that many of the atrocities we remember still happen today in other parts of the world. But we are not exempt from that realisation. In our society there is also still a Holocaust taking place every day: a Holocaust against the unborn.

And those unborn are persons, just like the Jews and other unwanted persons during the Holocaust never stopped being persons. Many would wish it so, but there is no magical transition during birth which make a fetus a person. A person is a person is a person from the get go. Killing a person is never alright, never a medical procedure, never an industry.

Time to stop the Holocaust.

Published by

incaelo

I'm a 37-year-old lay Catholic from the diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden. I write about the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. I not only enjoy bringing selected developments to the attention of readers, but I also think that it is sometimes important to allow a wider audience to read about the state of the Church in the Netherlands. That's why a fair number of posts about that topic will be translations of Dutch articles, episcopal writings and whatever else.

5 thoughts on “Remembering the dead, not just a thing of the past”

  1. The term ‘Polish death camps’ is incorrect. The German Nazis established the ‘death camps’ on occupied Polish soil. The camps were not Polish as implied by the comment. Please correct the error.

    1. Indeed, this terminology is incorrect, even as a geographic description, since Poland did not exist as a nation during World War Two. It is especially discouraging to see this written by a Catholic in a Catholic publication, considering that Nazi Germany viewed Polish clergy as inimical to their plans for the occupation and sent thousands of priests to the camps. Moreover, countless priests and nuns risked their lives to aid and shelter Jews, especially children, even to the point of endangering Christian children in church run orphanages.

  2. This is the theme Monsignor E. de Jong is repeating year after year on the “Plein”at the Hague when he is quite clear about the fact that people should stay away from the life that God has given to us. I remember a loud discussion he had with a representative from the VVD who was in charge of ethics where he commented that he did not understand what ethica had to do with the yearly murder of so many children in abortion-clinics in the Netherlands which many bystanders applauded. A courageous bishop you are I agreed with Him. Roman catholics should react against this genocide.

  3. Mark,

    do you know it: “8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”?
    If you still have questions please read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Polish_death_camp%22_controversy and correct your article. This is very serious problem.

    From Catechism:

    “2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.He becomes guilty: (…) of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.”

    “2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation”

    You have right to mistake AND TO CORRECT IT!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s