The unborn child is the most delicate of our duties. Who will protect them if we fail?
Valentines are exchanged with their tender sentiments. Ever notice how many valentines have cute fuzzy doggies or smiling kitty themes? Our local supermarket shelved some sweet treats for your pet for this St. Valentine's Day. Pets are big. Television personalities are obsessed by pets. Most network news programs include a regular feel-good pet story. One high profile television mom cooed over a found cat and decided to have one delivered for her daughter's birthday. Remember the video that went viral about the attack cat that rescued a small child from another vicious animal? Maybe that was the better instincts of both human and animal worlds.
Oh, that this cuddly attitude was lavished on the unborn child. Yet young people love a cause. And there are hopeful signs that the pro-life movement is gaining strength. The January March for Life in Washington D.C. gathered hundreds of thousands of souls, a high percentage of whom were young people. Regrettably we were not marching in the streets along with them. But Michael Novak believes the intellectual battle about the preciousness of the unborn has been won. He claims it takes time to convert hearts. Novak points out that, after all, the Berlin Wall did not come down at the same time as the fall of communism. In the case of the life of unborn children, technology has advanced the cause. The images prospective parents see are vibrant revelations of the real life within.
French streets were jammed recently with supporters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after the murder of 12 of its staff. They were supporting free speech. Suppose they find the fire in their hearts to support unborn children? A Super Bowl player thanked his mother for giving him life. There is hope afield.
We have obligations to care for the poor, the destitute, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. These are our Christian duties, not transferable to governments. The unborn child is the most delicate of our duties. Who will protect them if we fail?
Some Catholic writers believe we and our Church find it uncomfortable to be outside mainstream attitudes, especially about matters of sex. They have suggested that Catholic institutions, supported by upper middle class elites, bend to their class and its values rather than to longstanding Catholic teachings. It's just too painful to be out of step with the progressive social agenda. Being pro-gay, pro-same-sex marriage and in tacit agreement with current casual sexual behaviors is the price of being hip and modern... For all of two decades, print media has no problem writing about couples living together without benefit of marriage. It's all about life-style. The sexual revolution has overwhelmed us.
J.J. Reno writing in the January issue of First Things sees an uncertain future in the Church's role in the sexual revolution. In his analysis, the Church has historically made accommodation and even collaborated with powerful political trends. Try the easy compliance with dictators and fascists rulers, or indulging in the lavish lifestyle of the Renaissance. Some trends just roll along, with scarcely a hiccup. The government's Health and Human Services comes in and demands contraception mandate for Catholic colleges and hospitals. As the sexual revolution becomes the new normal, the Church will be sorely tempted to relax its opposition and give in to the inevitable and powerful "it's my body" argument.
Reno argues that the apostles of the new sexual revolution want us to think that our bodies provide us with "raw material to be formed and reformed as we think best suits our dreams and aspirations." The notion is, of course, counter to Christian humanism. Absent here is the teaching about a human being both spiritual and human. The Church has always understood the dual nature of the body. Another source of understanding is the Bible, which has a great deal to say about sex. It treats the act of sex as deeply spiritual and procreative. The Bible also supports a counter cultural imagination -- a life apart from common culture.
We parents have sometimes failed to pass on the Church's teachings about sex and allowed medical breakthroughs determine human behaviors. We have not always been the warriors for life we should be.
But how can parents keep apace of the drum-beat of the sophisticated world children must navigate? Our teachings are only a few, usually squeezed into small spaces amid frantic schedules. Meanwhile the common culture has all day at school and on social media. Our message is follow the Biblical idea of being deeply skeptical about the realm of popular ideas.
A while ago we were part of a campaign that distributed small pink enamel lapel pins in the shape of baby feet. The pink feet were the size of a baby's in utero feet at 10 weeks. When anyone inquired as to the pin's meaning, the practice was to give him the pin. Some rejected the offer. Yet there are many other signs little David is pushing back against the world's Goliath. Again, the annual March for Life is one potent sign of hope. The well of opposition to modern lifestyles can also be found in new religious school being founded here and around the country.
Let us not overlook the work of local organizations in the pro-life movement. Last month more than 800 Boston-area pro-lifers traveled to the Washington march to oppose the government's abortion policies.
Massachusetts Citizens for Life needs our donations and keeps us informed on their web site. They keep abreast of what Catholic thinkers are saying. Another vital organization is the Massachusetts Family Institute. Their inspiring fund-raiser rounds up supporters each October, while their crucial legislative work is on-going at the state house.
For all who attended Paris rallies in defense of free speech, our dream is to replace their signs and T-shirts with ones reading "Je suis bebe."
KEVIN AND MARILYN RYAN, EDITORS OF "WHY I'M STILL A CATHOLIC," WORSHIP AT ST. LAWRENCE CHURCH IN BROOKLINE.
Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline, Mass.
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