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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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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