John P. Hittinger

Opinion

Three masks of the Culture of Death

John P. 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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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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