John P. Hittinger

Three masks of the Culture of Death

John P. Hittinger
By John Hittinger
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October 19, 2012 (truthandcharityforum) - In Evangelium Vitae (EV 28), Blessed John Paul II said, “we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life.’” The culture of death is at work in liberal democracy, although its appearance is less harsh and less easy to notice than it was under communist or fascist regimes.

The politicians mask their commitment to death behind sophisticated phrases. But the culture of death leers at us daily: pornography and the degradation of sexuality, substance abuse, violence, broken families, children abused and abducted, and the growth of the abortion industry as it gobbles up lives, money, and the very future of our country.

Our economic system profits on the degradation of human beings and consumerism lulls us into an indifference to others; our judicial system extends the reach of degradation through the rhetoric of individual rights; our political system celebrates its utilitarian value; our educational system falls under the dictatorship of relativism so that no word can be uttered in protest; and the system of mass media rationalizes and even celebrates the activities which crush and mar the dignity of life. It is nothing less than a “conspiracy against life” (EV, 12). We must be neither silent nor idle; we must challenge the euphemisms masking the culture of death.

First, there is the mask of RELATIVISM. After having lived through and witnessed totalitarian oppression and the fall of the Soviet Union, Blessed Pope John Paul II strongly affirmed the value of political democracy. Democracy “ensures the participation of citizens,” holds the politicians accountable, and formalizes peaceful means of transition (Centisimus Annus, 46). Precisely because human freedom and dignity are protected through the democratic form of government, it is a fatal mistake to defend democracy on spurious grounds – “Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life” (46).

In writing Evangelium Vitae, John Paul called this attempt to use relativism a “sinister” approach that justifies the killing of the weak. Behind these attacks on life and the changing of a crime into a right, lies a cultural crisis “which generates skepticism in relation to the very foundation of knowledge and ethics, and which makes it increasingly difficult to grasp clearly the meaning of what man is, and the meaning of his rights and duties” (11).

And so the Supreme Court of the United States overturned laws restricting abortion on the grounds that that no one knows when human life begins. And the torrent of laws followed this landmark decision sweeping away any and all protection for the vulnerable little ones in the womb. The lawmakers hid behind the mask of relativism and the journalists would batter down and ridicule the voices of truth.

Blessed John Paul II appealed to the founding truths to admonish Lindy Boggs: “The United States of America was founded on the conviction that an inalienable right to life was a self-evident moral truth, fidelity to which was a primary criterion of social justice. ... Whenever a certain category of people - the unborn or the sick and old - are excluded from that protection, a deadly anarchy subverts the original understanding of justice.” Let us fight the purveyors of relativism as they subvert the very foundation of our constitution.

We must unmask them and show that relativism often hides a prior choice for self against others. The agent will shut out “the most obvious evidence for objective and universal truth” so that subjective and changeable opinion, or “selfish interest and whim” are the only point of reference for the concrete decision (EV, 19). The appeal to relativism masks an ugly selfishness bent upon murder.

A second mask covering the culture of death is REALISM. John Paul said that the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 was “a warning to those who, in the name of political realism, wish to banish law and morality from the political arena.” Machiavelli taught that the prince must know how to do evil and allow the end to justify the means, however evil it may be. The appeal of political realism emerges whenever there is a sense of emergency or necessity.

It is argued that virtue and character are too weak or too scarce to count for anything regarding social policy. Great social benefits or utility requires the suspension of moral norms, the Machiavellians say. For example, the problem of teen pregnancy is considered a technical issue requiring nothing more than the right birth control methods. The challenge to live chastely is dismissed out of hand as impossible or ineffective. Termination of pregnancy through abortion is said to be a necessary policy for achieving personal progress or the overcoming of poverty and even crime! The response of conscience to the lack of love and the use of another human being is stifled.

Pope John Paul II warns that modern man is “threatened by an eclipse of conscience.” And in the address to Lindy Boggs he said, “there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability.” Political realism is but another such mask contributing to the culture of death and we must never cease to bring moral standards to the public square.

A third mask of the culture of death is MAJORITARIANISM. There is a danger when a society seeks to impose the will of the majority without reference to truth or an objective moral order: “’Right’ ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism.”

In fact, the state is “transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part.” Although the democratic system claims to follow the process for fairness, it is a “tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations” (EV, 20).

The support for abortion that appeals to a “mainstream” opinion or the force of the majority is nothing less than the velvet glove of a tyrant state.

We must stand firm in our commitment to protecting and promoting the good of human life and not back down in the face of the onslaught of the partisan attacks on the sanctity of life and media promotion of abortion.

We must tear away the masks hiding the culture of death.

We need public leaders who will not conspire with the zeitgeist of moral relativism.

We need leaders who consider themselves bound by and challenged by a moral purpose and not ready to compromise under the guise of realism.

We need public leaders who affirm our founding truth concerning the right to life and have the courage to shape majority opinion, not be cowed by it.

Reprinted with permission from the Truth and Charity Forum.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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