Before praying at the abortion memorial in Korea this weekend, Pope Francis also visited the “House of Hope” Rehabilitation Center Saturday afternoon. He spent almost an hour at the center where he embraced and blessed many of the patients and greeted teachers and health workers.
According to CNA, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-huh, Bishop of Cheongju, addressed the Holy Father and said “these children have suffered from double abandonment: abandoned first by their parents for birth defects and later by society because nobody wanted to adopt them because of prejudices against children with disabilities.”
“Holy Father, your visit is a strong call for us to practice preferential love and concern for children with disabilities.”
Indeed. Humanity’s greatness is shown best in how we love and care for those in need.
How many children with disabilities, like those at the House of Hope, continue to be abandoned throughout the world or, worse yet, have their lives snuffed out before they’re even born?
We should be concerned with finding cures and making the world a place where people with disabilities feel welcome and valued, not pushing them away or snuffing them out of existence.
Visiting the sick and disabled is not unique to Francis’ pontificate, of course. During his visit to the United States in 2008, pope Benedict had a special audience for children with disabilities and told them
God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts. Through these you are able to serve him and society in various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign of hope for everyone.
Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love (cf. Jn 12:32) and in so doing shows us the way ahead – the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others.
Related: Your Handicapped Child is a Blessing
During his visit to Korea last week, Pope Francis prayed in silence in front of the symbolic cemetery displaying hundreds of small white crosses to represent aborted children.
GAH! Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Thais and the beautiful, moving commercials they produce?
Here’s another great one I came across recently.
To have and to hold, from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, to death do us part.
As Frank Weathers notes, this is what living the marriage vow is all about.
It reminds me of an experience I had at a nursing home I used to visit a few years ago. Read: Love Endures All Things
Over at the Register, Rebecca Taylor comments on the recent surrogacy scandal from Thailand involving an Australian couple and a surrogate from Thailand who gave birth to twins, one of whom has Down syndrome.
The couple took home the healthy baby girl, leaving the future of her twin brother with DS in jeopardy.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano ran an op-ed commenting on Gammy’s story, stating, “In reality, there’s little to be indignant about: If you accept the logic of a child as a product, this is the obvious consequence.”
It is no secret that the stance of the Catholic Church — which categorically rejects the “logic” of regarding any child as a mere “product” — is wildly unpopular. In a society that thinks any way to make a baby is the right way to make a baby, the Church is often seen as a backward institution that rejects and shames infertile couples. We are labeled as “haters.”
In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
What is the Church really saying when she rejects artificial reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF and surrogacy? The Church teaches that to create human life outside of the act of intercourse between husband and wife is unethical. Why? There are many reasons, but the most compelling is because we all deserve the absolute best start in life.
She goes into much more detail, but the crux of Taylor’s article is something you’ve seen me bring up here time and time again: Taking the creation of life out of its natural, God-given context and moving it into the science lab seriously alters how many view the wonder and mystery of new life and how that new life should be treated.
For example, Taylor uses a quote from a story I mentioned here a few years ago, about a woman who was chose to kill one of the healthy unborn twins she conceived via IVF. She rationalized it this way:
If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.
Consciously or unconsciously, to desire a child as the end result of a technological procedure instead of the fruit of marital love is to treat the child not as a person to love, but a product to obtain.
This actually goes quite well with the story I posted a few hours ago.
According to the NY Post there is a growing trend of people launching GoFundMe campaigns for help purchasing their future children.
GoFundMe reports that the total value of donations made to people seeking IVF funding in its “Babies, Kids and Family” category worldwide stands at $1.1 million since its 2010 launch. And those numbers are growing: The amount donated between January and July 2014 is already a third higher than that collected for the entirety of 2013.
The Post highlighted two such campaigns specifically. And I couldn’t help noticing something particularly troubling on the page for for one of those campaigns.
Sometimes people will attach prizes to certain dollar amounts as incentives for people to donate. Understandable. But this??
$100 gets you two free hours with the babies (who don’t even exist yet)! Something’s terribly wrong with this picture.
If that’s not treating children like objects/products — before they even exist — I don’t know what is.
I think the CBC’s Jennifer Lahl, quoted in the Post, has it right. There’s something quite tacky and tasteless about asking friends, family and strangers to help you exploit women and buy children.
Mary Evelyn at What Do You Do Dear? recalls what it was like when a little girl walked up to her son, who has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair, at church one day:
And then, without taking her eyes from his face, she said “I feel sorry for him.”
I felt it more than I heard it. Deep in my stomach, in that place right below my breastbone. The place where I keep all my fears and my sadness. I felt it like a kick in the ribs.
Children ask all sorts of question about my son.
Why is he in that? Why can’t he walk? What’s wrong with him? Will he need that thing forever?
But questions are easy. For children, questions have answers.
“I feel sorry for him” is not a question. It is a statement of fact. A revelation. A public disclosure of something I know to be true. Although I fight against it and try to believe otherwise, I know there are many many people who feel the same. Many people who see my son, smiling and spinning and exploring his world, and they feel sorry. They feel sadness. But adults know how to filter. We know what not to say. We know to bottle up. This little girl was a leak in the system.
A system that tells her my son’s wheelchair is “very sad.”
A system that tells her he is a “poor thing.”
A system that uses words like confined to, suffers from, and bound.
A system that prefers to see people like my son as victims, as recipients of charity, as less-fortunates waiting to be healed, rather than seeing them as neighbors, colleagues, teachers, and friends.
A system that tells her my son smiles “in spite of” rather than simply because he too is a child and has access to all the same earthly wonders that she does.
Wonders like fireflies, and candlelight, and going fast, and little girls in gauzy white dresses.
In the past nearly 15 years I’ve found that often the hardest part about living with a disability is not coming to terms with what I can’t do, but dealing with the perception that I am more helpless/miserable than I really am.
Despite the many wonderful advances we’ve made in protecting the rights of people with disabilities and including them in society, it seems we’ve yet to remedy the view of the general public that life with a disability is less enjoyable or fulfilling.
But there is hope. Read the rest of Mary’s post for a beautiful example of a stranger who gets it right!
• Couples are flocking to Thailand, the last place in Asia where sex-selective IVF is available.
• The Medical Board of Australia has suspended the medical registration of Dr Philip Nitschke, aka: Australia’s “Dr. Death”, following allegations that he counseled a man who was not terminally ill to take his own life. The board found that he posed “a serious risk” to the health and safety of the public.
Rebecca Taylor reviews the latest teen dystopian future trilogy to hit the big screen:
I…want to thank Veronica Roth for tackling tough issues in biotechnology in a way young people love. I hope this trilogy gives them pause in a world that thinks science can solve any problem. I hope they see that being human is not a problem that needs to be fixed.
All’s quiet on the blogging front because my sister and nephew are visiting for a few days. So, all you may get this week is a little cute screaming nephew blogging.
Cruz is six months old now — and a riot!
Beach day with my beach babe!
I started this blog almost eight years ago as an extension of my pro-life apostolate. It was 2006 and Missouri was in the midst of a heated battle over human cloning, so I already had a special focus on biotechnology here from the beginning.
Cloning and stem cell research were both relatively new subjects to me at the time. I had only really been reading and talking about them for about a year before starting the blog, but it was quickly clear to me the tremendous impact they would have on the future of humanity.
About the same time I was starting out, another blogger was emerging with a similar focus. Rebecca Taylor’s Mary Meets Dolly blog became an instant favorite of mine, opening my eyes to even more threats to human life that I had never considered, indeed never even heard of before.
It’s been almost a decade — nine for Rebecca — and she’s still at it, still educating people on these crucial matters, and she remains a constant source of inspiration and insight to me personally (have you seen the video series we started together?).
Over the years, she’s also been given opportunities to spread the word outside her own blog on other Catholic and pro-life publications, which is why I’m proud to share with you the news that Rebecca recently won first place in the “Best Regular Column – Culture, the Arts and Leisure” category at the Catholic Press Awards.
It is for her column on bioethics at the National Catholic Register. I’ve tried to link to all of her Register pieces as they’ve been published, but if you’ve missed any of them, here they are:
I share this news and these articles with you here not only because I’m so very happy for Rebecca and proud to count her as a good friend and colleague, but, as Rebecca herself noted, the more exposure we can give these “issues” (they’re really much more than that) the better. Sometimes it seems as though we’re screaming into a vacuum, even among pro-lifers.