The latest newsletter for the Center for Genetics and Society is out.
Lots of good stuff in here — especially about the recent decision by Facebook and Apple to offer their female employees a $20,000 benefit to freeze their eggs for later use with in vitro fertilization.
Check it out!
“For I was a stranger…and you welcomed me.”
An excerpt from When Did We See You, Lord, by Bishop Robert Baker and the late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, fitting for the Fall 40 Days for Life Campaign currently underway:
Recent Issues of both Time and Newsweek seem to point to a majority of Americans finally coming around to realize that life begins at conception. Of course, this has been the teaching of the Catholic Church all along. One can only hope this is a sign that American society may be beginning to welcome the “stranger” who is the infant in the womb to the category of human personhood, acknowledging the human dignity and civil rights denied the infant in the womb by Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Roe v. Wade made the fetus out to be a predator, a threat to family happiness, another potential mouth to feed who might hamper the health and well being of other family members already there. There would simply not be enough food and clothing and square footage of housing space to accommodate one more human being. The infant in the womb, the stranger in our midst, must go.
A friend of mine…described a great success story he witnessed at a pro-life prayer vigil in front of an abortion clinic…There, he saw a pregnant woman guided away from the destruction of the infant in her womb by another woman, patiently holding a picture of a beautiful baby. Their conversation led the expectant mother to decide to investigate alternatives to abortion with the people at another clinic, a pro-life clinic.
That second woman overcame fear of the unknown with an attitude of welcome — and saved a life. May our time in prayer help us to contemplate the face of Christ int he unborn, and to see that in the unseen infant is a stranger who longs to be welcomed into our world.
God, our Father, You are the author of life and the defender and protector of the innocent and defenseless human life in the womb. Help us to welcome that most unwelcome of strangers in our American society, the innocent unborn. Because we have become so gluttonous as individuals, families and society, we have left no space or room — in our homes, our society or our lives — for this stranger in our midst. Now that we Americans have more to go around, we have less room for children in our midst. Help us, Lord, to see children as the joy of our lives…not hindrances, enemies, obstacles, or strangers.
I totally missed this news from a few weeks ago. Apparently Jeopardy superstar, Ken Jennings, was under twitter fire for a comment he made about people in wheelchairs.
Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) September 22, 2014
Nothing sadder than smart people saying really dumb things.
Hey, Ken, I (and several people I know) resemble that remark! And you know what?
It helps to be willing to see the person and not just the disability.
Because, let’s face it, we could all use a little more of it.
Litany of Humility
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X
Yesterday I was on Catholic radio in Lexington, KY. Mike and I spent most of the time talking about the Communita Cenocolo, a Catholic ministry that addresses the deepest needs of addicts–the need for community, squeezing in a little bit about America’s eugenic history at the end. Click the play button below to listen!
For even more information about the Community here in America, check out the following episodes of EWTN’s Life on the Rock:
Tune in today at 5 pm ET when I will be talking to Mike Allen about the Communita Cenocolo, a Catholic ministry that addresses the deepest needs of addicts–the need for community. We’ll also talk a little bit about how the ideological roots of the Nazi Holocaust connect to our own American soil.
Click on the image above or go to RealLifeRadio.com to listen live.
A few weeks ago, I commented on the new memorial to Nazi euthanasia victims with a reminder that Germany’s eugenics movement did not start with Hitler, but German professors and other intellectuals. A commenter on that post noted that eugenic practices in Europe actually originated here in America.
He’s right and, while I failed to mention it then, I have mentioned it several times here before. What’s often forgotten when we think about the history of eugenics is that eugenic thought and practices were also common and widespread in early 20th century US. Not only that, many prominent eugenicists from our country were Nazi advisors.
Before the mass murders and concentration camps, ethnic cleansing in Germany started with the forced sterilization of so-called “undesirables,” namely, the physically and mentally handicapped. Before Hitler, the United States lead the world in the forced sterilization of these “unfit” human beings.
Over at Breakpoint.org, Eric Metaxas goes into a little more detail.
As Edwin Black, the author of “War Against the Weak” has documented, the ideas that led to Aktion T4 “began on Long Island and ended at Auschwitz . . . and yet never really stopped.”
By “Long Island” he means the Cold Spring Harbor Lab right here in New York, which was the driving force behind the eugenics movement in the United States. Between the turn of the twentieth century and our entry into World War II, America engaged in its own experiment in “racial hygiene.”
States prohibited marriage between the “fit” and “unfit,” often defining the latter category very broadly. They forcibly sterilized tens of thousands of people with the Supreme Court’s blessing. The number of those affected by what Chuck Colson once dubbed “Yankee Doodle Eugenics” will never be known with any certainty.
What is certain is that, by the time Hitler came to power, the U.S. had been practicing the gospel of eugenics at home and spreading that message abroad, including Germany and, yes, among those who put Aktion T4 into action. As a colleague of mine has put it, “the demonic ideas about ‘race hygiene’ that the Third Reich put into practice were, at least initially, clearly marked ‘Made With Pride in the USA.’”
Most states ended their state-enforced sterilization in the 1940s, but North Carolina didn’t pick it up til sometime after the 40s, and there it peaked during the 1950s and 1960s, before ending in the ’70s.
Germany took the movement to its natural and horrific conclusion, so it’s easy to muster up patriotic, American outrage at the atrocities of the Holocaust — especially since we played a significant role in helping our allies defeat Hitler and liberate many of those imprisoned by his ruthless government. But we mustn’t forget our own mistreatment of the sick and disabled and the role we played spreading the eugenic mindset abroad.
If only our eugenic “history” were a thing of the past. Certainly, we made many wonderful advances in the past few decades protecting the rights of people with disabilities and including them in society. But, let’s not forget that the expected American response, if a disability is known before birth, is to abort the child. So, in terms of really accepting people with disabilities, we are arguably no better than we were a century ago.
In fact, the argument could be made that we are much, much worse and that our systematic slaughter of disabled infants in the womb dwarfs or is at the very least on par with the inhumanity of Hitler’s euthanasia program. Perhaps the saddest part of it all is that we’re not being ruled by some ruthless dictator; we’re doing it to ourselves. If it can be said that we’re under the influence of any dictator, it is the dictatorship of relativism that tells us that human life has limited value.
Recently came across an old article from Susan Windley-Daoust on The Sign of the Dying Body: How the Theology of the Body Helps Us to Die in Love
Dying—undergoing it, or helping one who is dying—is a privileged space where we see and encounter God himself. And in dying, the ensouled body serves as a sign of gift and giving, yielding one’s life to the embrace of God. It is a sign that well-illumined the insights of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
Windley-Daoust recently published a book with more on this topic: Theology of the Body, Extended: The Spiritual Signs of Birth, Impairment and Dying.
Today the Catholic Church honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Sorrows. Today also happens to be my birthday, so this feast has always kind of been a bit of a personal one for me.
Our Lady was so intimately linked with the redemptive work of her Son that she shared in His sufferings here on earth (Lk. 2:35) while standing by Him on the cross (Jn. 19:25). Besides our Lord, Mary is the greatest example of perseverance in suffering and is a constant source of strength and inspiration for me in my own sufferings.
This feast of our sorrowful Mother, who is also now the Queen of Heaven, is a great source of hope as well — a reminder of the reward of those who suffer for the sake of Christ:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. -2 Timothy 2:11-12
Finally, Our Sorrowful Mother teaches us that it’s okay to be sad and mourn the loss of loved ones that are dear to us. Sorrow is not a lack of faith or trust in God. Christ, himself, expressed sorrow many times in the Gospels — even openly wept at the death of his good friend Lazarus (Jn 11:35).
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
Prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows, by St. Bonaventure:
O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object.
Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God. Amen.
I mentioned last year that work had begun on a memorial in Germany for the 300,000 people murdered by the Nazis for having mental and physical disabilities or chronic illnesses.
That memorial finally opened last week in Berlin.
“The Nazi murders of disabled people are among the most inhumane acts of history,” said Mayor Klaus Wowereit. “It is high time that these victims of Nazi inhumanity finally receive their own memorial.”
Mayor Wowereit was joined by relatives of victims and members of the public who all lay wreaths and white roses in front of the 100-foot-long, blue glass wall of the open-air memorial and permanent exhibition.
“We must denounce the inhumane distinction between a worthy and an unworthy life,” said Monika Gruetters, Germany’s state minister for culture and media. “Every human life is valuable – that’s the message of this memorial.”
As I said before, this is the part of the holocaust that people need much more education on. I’ll never forget being told by someone that he thought only Jews were exterminated in the holocaust!
What perhaps needs to be understand above all is that the Nazis were actually inspired by a pre-existing eugenics movement that advocated the destruction of Life Unworthy of Life. A movement propagated, not by Hitler, but by high-profile German intellectuals and other “medical professionals.”
This is why statements like the ones recently made by humanist and darling of the intellectual community Richard Dawkins about the “morality” of killing unborn children with Down syndrome should not be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, Dawkins is not alone. Much of the West, it seems, has failed to learn from history and continues to accept that there is such a thing as unlivable, unworthy life. And it’s not limited to just some lofty intellectual idea.
His comments may have been crass, but Dawkins was correct about one thing, the majority of children prenatally diagnosed with Ds ARE currently being killed in the womb. But that’s not all. In the Netherlands, doctors kill babies with serious or terminal disabilities after they’re born.
Also on the rise in the Netherlands, as well as in Belgium, is euthanasia for people with serious physical and mental illnesses. And the so-called “right to die” is slowly spreading to other countries, including the United States.
What short memories we have!
Once upon a time physicians and medical professionals — believers and non-believers alike — swore an oath to recognize and uphold the dignity of their patients and “never do harm” or administer deadly medicine to anyone – even when asked. Now, not only do we not require such an oath to be taken anymore, but for those who do take it we’ve changed it into something more politically than medically correct.
Any reference to never administering deadly medicine has been removed and replaced with a vague pledge to “tread with care in matters of life and death.”
A physician’s job is to heal, not kill. Death is never medicine, no matter how permanent the diagnosis or how much pain the patient is in. We may not be directly headed toward mass murder of the kind that happened in Germany in the early half of the 20th century, but we’re still in for a world of trouble once we start making death an acceptable “treatment” for pain and suffering.