Kathleen Gilbert

Scrooge, our favorite population controller

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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December 23, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Every time December 25 rolls around, I’ve made it a tradition to watch A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. It’s such a great film. Unfortunately, it never fails to remind me of work.

This is because (as readers may remember) Charles Dickens cast Scrooge as the population control everyman: “If they would rather die, they’d better do it, and decrease the surplus population,” he says of the impoverished masses herded into prisons and workhouses.

Whether it’s for the “green” crusade or some other guess at the common good, top ethicists today have embraced Scrooge’s insight that there’s a shortcut to achieving that good: do away with the people who aren’t benefiting from it. Voila!

Scrooge makes a fine population controller because they are the very definition of Scrooge. It’s just that these days, when such characters show up in the flesh instead of a film, society’s anti-Scrooge alarm - a repulsion towards those who say others should do us a favor by not existing - sadly fails to go off. 

As Scrooge later beholds the ailing Tiny Tim, the Ghost of Christmas Present reminds him that according to his own theory, the little boy’s death would mark one step in the right direction. But the message doesn’t really hit home until Scrooge is prompted to consider leading by personal example with his own death. Now that, as other characters observe, the old man had never seen coming.

This is the plague that nearly all population misers must have in common: a ho-hum attitude toward their own end. Some probably have floating in the backs of their minds a soothing idea of slipping into a restful nothingness, while others may have more pessimistic or optimistic ideas, but they are just that: ideas. Especially in this world of near-miraculous health care, we run the risk of death remaining largely in the realm of theory. 

This isn’t healthy.

Not to get too depressing, but this is important: please, let’s not pretend death is anything short of a total disaster. Except on a supernatural level, death and life are pure enemies. The problem with death is that it’s impossible to represent it; it is nothing and absurdity. True appreciation is thus left to experience: life left to itself can lose its sense of its own throbbing energy, its own insatiable greed for more and more life. But nearness to the void provokes the most violent of natural instincts, the craving to be. 

We’d be better off getting in touch with this instinct again; it gives us insight into the problem with eliminating the “surplus population,” that is, with eliminating people. When someone else dies, a person vanishes. But if I die, everything else vanishes too, and that’s what is so terrible.

This is in fact accurate. Without people things are only things, or even less than things. Scrooge’s gold is a collection of atoms with seventy-nine protons that signify nothing more than those of compost. Trees and animals live and decay lacking the capacity to know their own beauty and poetry, and thus with no one aware, there is no beauty or poetry at all. The world, a huge mass of particles occasionally engaging in chemical reactions, would just be: and in the end, may as well not be. 

So the story of Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t the story of a man learning that people are worth more than money, but that worth means people.  People can’t be weighed in the scales because they are the scale. That’s exactly why we all love A Christmas Carol, and why population misers are wrong.

Whether conservative or liberal, green or not, stories that tell this tale are the ones we like best. Stories that tell the reverse are not stories at all.

In September we encountered a non-story like this in the extreme. James Jay Lee, the Discovery Channel gunman, met an absurd end as he held hostages while demanding that the network air programming to help us stop “breeding any more disgusting human babies.”

Lee was so alienated from the true common good that he thought people were not only not its purpose, but a hindrance to it. Who was the protagonist of his story? How could there be a happy ending? It’s hard to say, given that he himself was a member of that “filthy” race - and had strapped bombs to his own body.

This is where we come to the point, the one Lee sadly missed and that Scrooge nearly did. Death truly is the wrong ending to any story, for it steals both people and the meaning they endow - and had it not been for Christmas, all of human history would have been just such a non-story. 

Our frightful encounter teaches us just how great a rescue God pulled off by the birth of a tiny, impoverished child on Christmas Day. Death, the total disaster, has been forced into service as the gateway to life. Christ’s coming is another of those stories we like best, so much so that even modern secularists can’t quite seem to let it go: this one tells how the human soul will never vanish but can hope to conquer even death itself. 

It’s been a hard year: as we look on, people seem to go on finding ever more and more ways to suppress life. Steeping in these reports too long can be unhealthy, and make us forget the way things really are. To detox, find a comfortable spot on Christmas Day and listen to a story that ushers back to center stage the two things that really belong there: life, and the Child who made it abundant forever.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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