Fr. Shenan Boquet

Learning from the panic over population growth

Fr. Shenan Boquet
By Fr. Shenan Boquet
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September 4, 2012 (HLI Worldwatch.org) - The contrast is striking. On one side, we have those telling us that there are too many people in the world, and that for the sake of “women’s health” and “sustainability,” abortion and contraception must be basic rights—perhaps even an obligation for some—if we are to achieve sustainability in this world. On the other side are nations who are ahead of the curve, already achieving the so-called “success” of population reduction, that are in a panic to reverse course.

Representing the champions of “women’s health” is one of the wealthiest women in the world, Melinda Gates, whose “No Controversy” campaign has already raised over $4.6 billion to create new forms of birth control to push onto the more than 120 million women in the developing world. Mrs. Gates, who seems genuine when she claims that her Catholic faith leads her to defy Catholic teaching in this enormous effort to prevent births, has thus far been effective at uniting Western governments, the world’s largest abortion providers, relief organizations and developing world governments toward this goal.

One would think that if the issue was “women’s health,” that there would be more discussion among these elites about the health risks for women in their proposed solution to poverty. We might expect to hear a serious discussion about how, exactly, Catholic teaching can lead one to see children as the biggest threat to progress for developing nations. We might hear why they think contraception is more important than education, training qualified birth attendants and building hospitals in the great effort to reduce the problem of maternal mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Just as important, we would expect input from countries who have already achieved what Mrs. Gates and her partners seem bent on doing – actually reducing the population. The “No Controversy” gang should go beyond the voices they hear who only seem to tell them how desperately they need contraception. Instead, they should listen to those who are scrambling to reverse what they thought was a promise of progress, only to learn that population decline comes with terrible costs that never seem to be considered by the champions of “progress.”

South Korea is to many around the world a model of progress – a wealthy nation with a well-educated citizenry and plenty of opportunities for employment and upward mobility. This seems true especially in contrast with North Korea, whose murderous and corrupt leaders have succeeded in driving the nation’s economy right into the ground. With this contrast in such proximity, South Korea is lionized as a beacon of free market and democratic success.

But we need to look closer. Over the last several years a realization is setting in that South Korea’s progress has come at the expense of the next generation, as certain attitudes in the culture have left the country with an extremely low birth rate.

Superficially, this would seem to indicate that there is something to that often-unspoken argument about children being an obstacle to progress. But if this is so, why is South Korea (like several European nations) scrambling to reverse its low birth rate? Just recently the highest court in South Korea recognized the right to life of the unborn and ruled to enforce the country’s anti-abortion laws. Abortion has been illegal in South Korea since 1953 except in certain cases. Why have they decided to start enforcing this law which had been essentially ignored for decades?

Has South Korea given up on “progress?” Or have Koreans finally realized that such false progress, at the expense of children, is short-lived and potentially very destructive?

More importantly, how can we get Mrs. Gates, who may very well have the best of intentions for women in the developing world, to see the bigger picture? Is the real cause of such devastating and widespread poverty really children? Or is it government and moral corruption, a desire to control rather than liberate people, lack of education and a true sense of community?

The Catholic teaching that Mrs. Gates bizarrely claims led to her current campaign is actually very concerned with development, but the Church understands development in a very different way. In what the Church calls “authentic, integral development,” all people and the entire person – including in her spiritual and eternal dimension – are the end of, not the primary obstacle to, development. Markets should freely allow the development of wealth and its generous sharing. Laws must be just and justly enforced. Basic freedoms—including, and especially, religious freedom—must be defended by the state along with the right to life and all other legitimate rights that flow from this most essential right.

And people are the greatest resource—again, NOT the greatest obstacle—to authentic, integral development. For serious reasons, parents (NOT governments) may choose to postpone pregnancy using natural means that uphold both the unitive and procreative aspects of sexuality. But children are never to be seen as an obstacle, and dangerous hormonal drugs, of the means favored by Mrs. Gates and her partners, do not truly empower anyone. Any view to the contrary does not come from the Church, and the Catholic faith cannot be claimed in its support.

The social and moral teachings of the Catholic Church—which are in harmony with one another, not in opposition—provide a wealth of thinking on how to achieve true sustainable development. We pray that more nations can hear this truth before they too begin to see children as a threat to progress.

Reprinted with permission from HLIWorldWatch.org

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President Obama speaks at Planned Parenthood's national conference in 2013.
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Obama remakes the nation’s courts in his image

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By Dustin Siggins
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It has often been said that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is President Obama's greatest achievement as president. However, that claim may soon take second place to his judicial nominees, and especially their effect on marriage in the United States.

In a new graphic, The Daily Signal notes that while President George W. Bush was able to get 50 nominees approved by this time in his second term, Obama has gotten more than 100 approved. According to The Houston Chronicle, "Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals. When Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat."

Three of the five judges who struck down state marriage laws between February 2014 and the Supreme Court's Windsor decision in 2013 were Obama appointees, according to a CBS affiliate in the Washington, D.C. area. Likewise, the Windsor majority that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act included two Obama appointees, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Obama has nominated 11 homosexual judges, the most of any president by far, says the National Law Journal.

Only one federal judge has opposed same-sex "marriage" since the Supreme Court's Windsor decision. He was appointed under the Reagan administration.

This accomplishment, aided by the elimination of Senate filibusters on judicial nominees, could affect how laws and regulations are interpreted by various courts, especially as marriage heads to a probable Supreme Court hearing on the constitutionality of state laws.

Democrats eliminated the filibuster for all judicial nominees except for Supreme Court candidates last year, saying Republicans were blocking qualified candidates for the bench. However, the filibuster was part of the reason Democrats were able to keep the number of approved Bush appointees so low.

The Supreme Court may hear multiple marriage questions in its 2015 cycle. 

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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