Monday, December 28, 2009

Because of the Church’s Position on Abortion

Posted by Frank
At the Battle of Mobile Bay in the American Civil War, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut gave a famous command. When one of his ships struck a mine and sank and the remaining ships in the fleet got "cold feet" and dallied, he shouted, “Damn the torpedoes! Full Speed ahead!” The remaining ships pressed on and swept the harbor of Confederate resistance. The Catholic Church’s stance on abortion strikes me as similar.

As Webster has written before, the positions the Catholic Church takes on issues aren't political. The positions are moral, based on the supernatural, and even based on the use of human reason in this case. Aborting human babies is killing innocent human beings for, well, for what exactly? Freedom? License? To cover up mistakes? To prevent overpopulation? Global warming?! How is it possible that this practice is acceptable?

I wrote here about my thoughts regarding scandals in the Church and how one scandal doesn't authorize the order to scuttle the ship. Today, as the Church venerates The Holy Innocents (above), I can't help but see the parallels between what King Herod ordered and what is going on here and around the world. I have no problem saying that the Abortion Emperor is wearing no clothes.

I used to be pro-Choice—just as I used to be Protestant. Then I looked deeper into the matter and came to my senses. And that was way before I came to my senses regarding Catholicism. I know there are many out there who believe that this is something only women can decide. But how can that be in matters that have this large an impact on society as a whole? Others will claim that after Roe vs. Wade, this is the law of the land, so don't fight it.

But "laws of the land" are notorious for being impermanent, and I can only pray for and support the changing of this law as well. Thomas Jefferson once said:

Of liberty, I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of the law," because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of an individual.

Oops, I got a little political there invoking the modern perspective of one of our Founding Fathers. The fact is, the Church has always been against aborting babies and no Johnny-come-lately revisionism is going to change that.

But, you argue, a fetus isn't a "person" and really is only a little amoeba-sized peanut-shaped thingy in the womb so, what's the harm? Besides, if abortion is illegal, women will be put at risk aborting their babies "underground." Do you seriously think these arguments are defensible? Have you Googled images of aborted babies yet?

I have a friend who, via an article from National Geographic magazine, proclaims the "Slaughter of the Innocents" never really happened. And so, since NG found at least one and maybe two scholars who can't prove this event actually did happen, I should not believe the tradition of the Church regarding this event?! Well, pardon me if I stick to tradition on this one.

In Nazareth recently, a home from Jesus's time was unearthed. We have only just begun to understand all that happened in the Great Depression (only a blink of an eye—80 years ago) so the supposition that we know everything about what happened when Herod the Great went on his spree is suspect at best.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins the discussion about abortion in the following way:

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means is gravely contrary to moral law:

"You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish."

"God, the Lord of life has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a man
ner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes."

It continues the argument in a way that would probably make Thomas Jefferson proud by proclaiming the inalienable right of life as a "constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation." To wit,

The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals or parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin; Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death"

I admit, I don't know much. I used to think I knew a lot. In this case though, I think the contrarian position of the Church relative to contemporary society makes the most sense. Therefore, I am thankful for the Church's unpopular stance on abortion. And I also am thankful that Mother Church venerates the Holy Innocents of so long ago, and that she continues to pray for the innocents that are being forgotten today as well.

After Admiral Farragut's seemingly rash command, running through the minefield enabled his fleet to get out of reach of the Confederate shore batteries, whereupon the Union fleet destroyed all but one Confederate ship, the ironclad C.S.S. Tennessee. The Wikipedia citation reports that although the Tennessee did not retire, and was heavily armored, she was reduced to a motionless hulk "unable to move or reply to the guns of the Union fleet. Her captain then surrendered ending the battle."

I hope and pray that this is how this battle will turn out as well. Be not dismayed!

Semper Fidelis