Thursday, December 1, 2011

Unmasking Choice

Okay, so it's been quite awhile since I posted. Life's been busy, excuses, excuses, excuses. I came across this article today on and it brings out some wonderful points. I'm only posting highlights, but I would suggest reading the entire short article:

The article is discussing the push to legalize abortion on Prince Edward Island and it's interesting what the arguments of the abortion supporters reveal. For instance, how many of us have heard the mantra, "safe, legal, and rare"? It's supposed to be common ground, both sides want to reduce the need for abortion. Right? Abortion supporters also claim that it needs to be safe and legal because restricting legal abortions won't lower the overall rate. It will cause abortion to go underground and women will die. Well, let's take a look at the situation in Price Edward Island and see if the rhetoric matches the reality.

Jonathon Van Maren quotes an article called "Group demands information on abortion rights":
"Pro-choice advocates on P.E.I. say a lack of information is one of the reasons the province’s abortion rate is less than half the national average.” The article further cites the fact that “the national average shows that in 2008 for every 100 live births, there were 25 abortions. On P.E.I. the figure is just under 10.”

So the abortion advocates are not pointing to the tragedy of all the women dying from illegal abortions. They are lamenting the fact that there are not enough abortions occurring on Prince Edward Island. Their argument is that women who might have chosen abortion, had it been more accessible, chose adoption or decided to raise their child instead and that is supposedly the injustice we must correct.

Van Maren says it well:
First, the greatest myth that abortion advocates try to disseminate is proven false: That if direct access to abortion is denied, the abortion rate will stay the same,  abortion businesses will go underground, and women will die miserably in the hands of back alley butchers. It is, by far, leading abortion advocate Joyce Arthur’s favourite mantra: Illegal abortion will cause the deaths of thousands of women!

So the reality is opposite the rhetoric, but yet so simple: restricting access to abortion results in fewer abortions, legal or otherwise. So if our common ground is to truly reduce the number of abortions, then heartbeat laws, parental consent requirements etc are working toward that goal we both agree on.

Finally, why would advocates for choice be lamenting the low abortion rate when there are no negative impacts of it? The answer is blatantly obvious: they are not advocates for choice, but for abortion. Just like advocates for life see life as the right and good choice, they see abortion as the right and good choice. Let's unmask "choice" and see that it is simply a euphemism for choosing abortion.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Do Your Job" Who is responsible for our looming debt crisis?

Article from 1953 on raising the debt ceiling.
Compromise. It's all over the news right now. President Obama is asking Republican leaders to compromise on raising the debt ceiling. I'll be honest economic issues are not my strong suit so I decided to do some research on this issue and what the consequences of the proposed solutions are. The first thing that caught my attention was Google's newspaper archives so I looked into articles written at times when other presidents wanted to raise the debt ceiling.The first one I found was from 1953 when President Eisenhower asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling from $275 billion to $290 billion. According to the article in the August 5th edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel, the bill passed in the House, but for the first time a strong minority fought against raising the debt ceiling. One of the leaders pushing against the President's request was Senator Byrd who pointed out that the President "does not have to spend every penny he is given. He has the power to economize". According to the article, the bill did not pass the Senate and a bipartisan majority of the finance committee found that "the only way to stop astronomical spending was to keep the treasury within the law." I find this history excerpt very interesting because the article points out that a limit was first placed on the country's debt in 1935 of $45 billion and that by 1946 the limit had reached the $275 billion that Eisenhower wanted to raise. What caught my attention the most was not actually part of the news article at all. but the "sponsored links" on the side of the page. Two of the three links grabbed by attention with, "Tell Boehner to Do His Job" and "Tell the GOP to Do Their Job". Both of these links were for petitions to send to Republican Congressional leaders asking them to back President Obama's plan for raising the debt ceiling.

So after looking at historical information on the issue I looked up current articles and I found a repeat of the idea that the Republicans in Congress are not doing their job because they won't agree to the President's plan. White House spokesman Jay Carney was quoted in an article on USA Today's website saying, "And it's a Sophie's choice, right? Who do you save? Who do you pay? That's an impossible situation that this country has never faced, and should never face, if Congress does what it was elected to do and does it's job." Congress has two bills out on this issue at the moment, one in the House and one in the Senate, but Carney says of the House bill that the Democratic Senate will reject it if it passes in the House because it only includes a six-month extension of the debt ceiling. Carney says this bill is a waste of time because it is not a compromise and therefore the representatives behind it are not "doing their job." It sounds to me like it's the White House who is unwilling to compromise, not the republicans in Congress. Many of the Republican representatives were elected on a promise to cut spending and not increase it. They are risking breaking their promises to the voters if they agree to raise the debt ceiling, but yet they are willing to discuss a plan that includes raising the debt ceiling temporarily. I don't know many of the specifics of each plan, but it seems clear to me that if Boehner's plan includes raising the debt ceiling at all it is definitely a compromise and the fact that the White House doesn't see it as such shows me their own stubbornness.

As I said earlier, there is a lot that I still don't understand about this issue and I recognize that it is very complex, but to me the evidence suggests that the White House is attempting to sway public opinion against the Republican representatives who are in fact trying to "do their jobs" and be faithful to the people that elected them.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I am struggling to understand why mainstream feminists are not speaking out in a meaningful way against sex-selection through abortion. It seems like a no-brainer to me that no matter what your views are on abortion you would be horrified by a culture that uses abortion to prevent births based on gender. Even if you do not recognize sex-selection abortion as killing women in the womb, it is clearly motivated by a devaluation of women that must be addressed. So where are the voices of the feminist movement speaking out against this human rights violation?

I think many of them feel like they are in between a rock a hard place on this issue. They fully believe in the right to choose abortion for any reason so how can they be upset when someone exercises that right even if they don't agree with the reasons. If abortion advocates start restricting abortion for certain reasons then they would have to admit that the right to choose is not absolute which would be very dangerous for the future of abortion rights. One example of a abortion rights advocate in this situation is Mara Hvistendahl, author of the book, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men." She seeks to bring attention to and prevent sex-selection, but makes it clear that restricting abortion is not  the way to go, because, "‘the Christian right’—as she labels those whose politics differ from her own—will use sex-selective abortion as part of a wider war on abortion itself.”

The reality of the situation is that sex-selection through abortion is an extreme example of the attitude surrounding abortion-on-demand. If the choice to "terminate a pregnancy" can be made for reasons such as the financial or emotional desires of the parents or because of a genetic disorder or illness the child has, then it is a logical next step to terminate based on gender, one could even classify being female as a "genetic disorder." I think the moral outrage we rightly feel when we are confronted with sex-selection through abortion should be a wake up call that there is something fundamentally wrong with the entire abortion-on-demand culture.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Catholics Come Home

The diocese of Baton Rouge launched a wonderful campaign this lent to reach out to people who have left the Catholic Church and are interested in returning. It is part of a national campaign geared toward helping people reenter the church. The most visual aspect of this campaign are the tv commercials and billboard ads inviting people back to the Catholic Church. I have been very touched by these commercials because they show the broad influence of the Catholic Church on the world while also being centered around the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian faith. Many faiths and organizations help the poor, heal the sick and educate children, but what is truly unique about the Catholic faith is that every day we have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist and we can visit him 24/7 in Eucharistic Adoration. People leave the Church for a variety of reasons and many find that afterwards they long for Eucharist and God uses this desire to bring them back to the fullness of His truth.

The next step in this campaign is to welcome people back into their local parish and help them to get connected to various ministries. Each parish has different programs for this, but many involve helping people to get information on seeking annulments since many people leave the church surrounding a divorce. Some parishes are conducting programs to answer questions people have about Church teaching; sort of like a no-commitment RCIA for people who are already Catholic. For many people all they need is to meet with the pastor for confession. Many parishes have already seen Catholics returning to the Church as a result of this wonderful campaign.

Take a look at one of the commercials and if you know anyone who has been away from the Church invite them back and help them to get connected with their local parish.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

They don't deserve it...but we'll give it to them anyway

I am very disappointed in New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg for his comments at a Planned Parenthood rally on March 22nd. He was talking in front of an Englewood, NJ Planned Parenthood clinic with many New Jersey state senators and other lawmakers, defending the tax payer funding of Planned Parenthood that is currently in jeopardy. In reference to the people who want to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Lautenberg said, "These people don't deserve the freedoms in the Constitution, but we'll give it to them anyway."

Well, isn't that nice of him.My opinion differs from yours and therefore I don't deserve the rights protected in the Constitution, but your a nice guy so you'll allow me to have them anyway. It also seems like there's a veiled threat here that he holds the power and could take away my freedoms at any time, because I didn't really deserve them to begin with. Sen. Lautenberg refers to distinct groups (they don't deserve them; we'll give it to them) and I'm curious who exactly these groups are. He is speaking to a pro-abortion rights group, so are the groups defined by their stance on abortion? However, he is directly referring to the effort in Congress to stop taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood which is led mostly by Republicans, so maybe that is the group division. Even though I'm unclear how exactly he defines who is worthy to be protected by the Constitution, it is clear that the only reason those people are undeserving is because of their differing view point from his.

I find it odd that while people who uphold the dignity of all life are trying to help others understand that everyone should be protected by the Constitution, no matter what race, religion, ideology, gender, or stage of development, Sen. Lautenberg seems to be denying that they are not even worthy of those freedoms, let alone the people they are fighting for.

Here's a short video of the quote:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Sometimes the Truth is Offensive

"I think it was the right thing to do," said Rev. Al Sharpton. "We have a right to our personal views, but we don't have a right to offend people."
Last week a billboard went up in New York's SoHo district that said, "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb." The purpose of the campaign was to draw attention to the high abortion rate in the African American community across the country, but particularly in New York City. According to the New York Department of Health, 59.8% of African American pregnancies ended in abortion in 2009; there were more induced abortions than live births. Since 1973, more African Americans have died from abortion than heart disease, HIV/AIDS, accidents, cancer and violent crime combined. According to the statistics, the womb is in fact a very dangerous place for African Americans to be as many of them do not make it out alive.

Despite the statistics, this billboard upset many people in New York and around the country. Lamar Advertising, the company who owns the billboard space, said employees at the restaurant below the billboard were being harassed by people angered by the advertisement. Lamar also reports receiving threats of violence if the billboard was not removed. Al Sharpton planned to hold a press conference speaking out against the billboard on Friday, but it was pulled down before the end of last week.
Council Member Letitia James said, "It is misguided to use Black History Month as a tool to promote this message. Every woman has the right to make personal choices in regards to her body, and I respect many different points of view, but to compare abortion to terrorism and genocide is highly offensive."
Why are so many people offended by this ad? It is simply a statistical truth, where is the offense in that? Many people who champion reproductive rights talk about wanting to reduce the need for abortion. Shouldn't they be offended by the reality that in our society so many people are still choosing abortion as it usually means they feel that they have no other option?
Rev. Michel Faulkner of the New Horizon Church of New York City said in a statement, “While this billboard causes a visceral reaction from many African-Americans, it addresses a stubborn truth that 60 percent of black babies do not make it out of the womb. Instead of challenging the design of the ad, we should ask why the message is true and how can we change the fact that the leading cause of death for African-Americans is abortion.
Sometimes the truth offends people, but even Jesus did not back down from the truth, let us learn from His example:
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day...This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."

These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?"

Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe."...

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

-John 6:53-66

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blessings or Burdens?

I saw a this commercial a couple of months ago and I can't get it out of my head, but not in the way that the advertisers would like. The commercial is for an IUD called Mirena and they're marketing it as "when your life is so hectic, you can't keep track of taking a pill everyday, use this instead." They show a mom with so much going on in her life that "the last thing on her mind is having another kid right now", but really it seems to me that having another kid is her greatest fear. She goes to grocery store and her kids run around and destroy the produce, she comes home to unload the groceries and her kids have made a huge mess in the hallway with a water balloon.She's at her wit's end with her two elementary aged kids and cannot imagine adding another child to their family. What I can't stop thinking about though is what does this commercial have to say about our attitude towards children? Are they a blessing or a burden? What I see here is that two children are uncontrollable hellions and too much for a normal mother to handle. My mother had two children, I know many people with two-plus children and I'm not sure this is actually the case. Obviously everyone raises their kids differently, but I've never seen children act the way they are portrayed in the commercial. It seems to me that there is a warning underlying this commercial that if you think this is bad don't even think about having three or four or ,god-forbid, five children!

I picked up a Jane Austen book I hadn't read before and the first page caught my attention and I can't help contrasting it with this commercial. The novel is Northanger Abbey and the main character is a country girl who is the 4th of 10 children. The way that Jane Austen speaks about her heroine's family is so different from the way that a family of ten children would be considered today. She praises the heroine's mother for the accomplishment of bringing ten children into the world and not dying in childbirth. She also acknowledges, "A family of ten children will always be called a fine family" which speaks of the way large families were perceived in her society. In order to be a large family today you only need 4 or 5 to qualify. According to the CIA World Factbook, in the U.S. our birth rate is 2.06 so the "average" family is about 2 children. The attitude of the commercial is that having two children is extraordinary not average.

I recently came across a similar French commercial promoting condoms. It is a similar situation to the one above, a dad and his son are shopping and the son throws a temper tantrum in the store. Unlike the above commercial though it seems to say that the dad regrets not using birth control to prevent having his son. The mom in the Mirena commercial is happy with her two children, but in this commercial the dad seems to wish he had never had kids and is warning others of the heavy, unnecessary burdens kids are.

I hope that we as a society can come to understand the blessing that children are to our lives. Thankfully, many people already understand this. The Quiverfull movement welcomes children as gifts from God and are open to large families. Also, the Large Families of America association has a website with a social media aspect where large families can connect with one another to share stories and advice. Below is a testimony from the site. It is so beautiful to watch their family grow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Addition to Live Action Will Bring Insider Prospective On Planned Parenthood Corruption

Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic director, is now the Chief Research Strategist at Live Action. Abby Johnson has been very busy since she left Planned Parenthood in the fall of 2009. She has successfully defended herself against a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood, traveled around the country giving her testimony, written a book about her experience at Planned Parenthood, and spoken at many pro-life gatherings including the West Coast Walk for Life, and now she has joined forces with Lila Rose and the team at Live Action to uncover the abuses that often occur at Planned Parenthood facilities.

Abby Johnson has seen the abuses inside Planned Parenthood with her own eyes and confirms the danger its clinics pose to women and young girls,” stated Live Action President Lila Rose. “She is a courageous trailblazer despite Planned Parenthood’s desperate attempts to attack her and silence the truth. We are thrilled and very thankful to have Abby join our team and are confident that her first-hand experience, conviction and guidance will provide invaluable counsel to Live Action as we advance our common goal of protecting women and children from the abuses of Planned Parenthood.

This announcement comes on the heels of Live Action's release of multiple videos from three states of their undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood's response to the trafficking and prostitution of underage girls. You can watch the shorter edited videos and the full unedited footage on their website. I am very excited to see what Abby Johnson brings to this marvelous organization as I can tell from her own words that she has a unique perspective on this issue:
I can tell you from experience that Planned Parenthood often turns a blind eye to sexual abuse and trafficking – what you see in Live Action’s videos is not a rare occurrence. But ignorance is no defense, especially when it has turned their clinics into a safe haven for those who sexually exploit women and girls. This is not a training problem so much as it is an ideology problem. I am humbled and eager to begin this partnership with Live Action so that together we can expose the serious harm Planned Parenthood poses to the most vulnerable among us.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How long has it been since my last confession? There's an app for that!

How many people are familiar with this scenario: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has 6 months since my last confession." I know, I have. Six months is my default answer because I usually go to confession at least that often. Now, I recognize, that I should go much more often, but it's a catch-22. Confession makes me nervous so I don't go very often even though I would like to, and if I were to go more often it wouldn't make me nervous! It's a crazy cycle.

Thankfully, I feel like Little i Apps understood my predicament and has provided some help. They have created a new iPhone app titled, "Confession: A Roman Catholic App", which has received an imprimatur from the bishop of Fort Wayne/South Bend, IN. This application provides an examination of conscience, a walk through of what to say at confession, 7 possible Acts of Contrition and it remembers the date of your last confession for you. It also remembers your examination of conscience so you could enter sins when you realize you've sinned and it will be there when you review it before your next confession. This is another problem I have when I wait so long in between confessions, I don't feel confident that I have remembered everything during my examination of conscience.I am very excited that I have an easy way to make the sacrament of confession less daunting and I hope that this will lead me to a higher frequency of partaking in this wonderful sacrament.

While I see this application as useful and enriching in my relationship with God, the media is struggling to understand it. Some people think that the Catholic Church is performing sacramental confession via iPhone. This misunderstanding was such a problem that the developers quickly updated the app to include the following disclaimer, "This app is intended to be used during the Sacrament of Penance with a Catholic priest only. This is not a substitute for a valid confession." Others have reported that the Vatican has warned against this app, when in reality, a representative from the Vatican reminded people that the app was not to be used in lieu of an actual sacramental confession.

The most recent uproar has occurred over one of the explanations listed under the Sixth Commandment, "Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?" Wayne Bensen, of Truth Wins Out, condemns the app as, "cyber spiritual abuse that promotes backward ideas in a modern package" and says, "Gay Catholics don’t need to confess, they need to come out of the closet and challenge anti-gay dogma."

Now, let's be honest here, this new app is not espousing new church teaching, it is simply displaying it in an easy to use format. So I struggle to understand where people are finding issue with the app itself. The Church's teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual actions are no different today than they were two weeks ago before the app was released. If anyone is upset by the inclusion of homosexual activity in the list of sins, they shouldn't criticize the authors of the app, they should take the issue to the leaders of the Church. Just like if I created an iPhone app displaying the constitution of the United States and someone took offense to some of the content, it would do them no good to criticize me, they should take the issue to the legislature. However, while our country is a democracy, thankfully, our church is not. It is a monarchy, led by our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. So if we have a problem with a teaching of the Church we should take it all the way to the top; we should take to Christ in prayer, asking Him to help us understand and accept the truth of His teachings.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Solving the Mystery of St. Valentine

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet
And so are you!

Today is Valentine's Day, dedicated to showing the loved ones in your life how much you care for them. Like many feasts or holy days of the Church, the origin of St. Valentine's Day or who St. Valentine was has been obscured by a secularized version of the holiday devoted to greeting cards, chocolate, roses and romantic love.

Let's rediscover the original purpose of this feast day. Who is St. Valentine and how did his feast day become associated with displays of romantic love?

Multiple saints share the name of Valentine and three of them it seems share the feast day of February 14th. One of them is St. Valentine of Rome. The details of his life have been blurred by time, but what we know is that he was a priest during the early Christian persecutions probably around the end of the second century, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius II. Some stories that have survived are that he was imprisoned by the emperor for declaring his faith in Jesus Christ and denouncing paganism, while in prison he ministered to those imprisoned and even helped bring the jailer to conversion when he healed the jailer's blind daughter. One thing we know for certain about St. Valentine of Rome is that he was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. On Febrary 14th, he was beaten then beheaded on order of the emperor outside the Flaminian Gate of Rome.

Another St. Valentine who is associated with the feast day of February 14th is St. Valentine of Terni. St. Valentine of Terni was a bishop who was imprisoned, tortured and beheaded during the reign of the Emperor Aurelius, around A.D. 175. It seems he was murdered in secret at night to avoid angering the people of Terni to whom this bishop was beloved.

A third St. Valentine is attributed to this feast day, but even less is known about him. He was martyred along with his companions in Africa in the early centuries of the Church.

Do you see a pattern here? All three of the St. Valentines associated with today's feast day are martyrs for their faith in Jesus Christ. So how did the celebration of this holy day come to be associated with romantic love? Again, history is not quite clear, but some possibilities arise. One story of St. Valentine of Rome is that he was initially arrested for performing the sacraments, specifically presiding over marriages, which was illegal at that time in Rome. So over time the link between St. Valentine and love and marriage could have originated from that. Another possibility is that some historians claim that there was a pagan celebration on February 15th where boys would draw girls names in honor of a Roman fertility goddess and to dissuade people from this the Church began a practice of having people draw the names of saints on the day before, which just happens to be St. Valentine's Day. So it is possible that there was an early connection between St. Valentine's Day and the drawing of names by boys and girls.

What is more clear in history is that by the time of the Renaissance St. Valentine had become associated with romantic love in popular culture. In the 15th century, Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote a letter to his wife while he was imprisioned in the Tower of London and in this letter he calls her, "Ma tres doulce Valentinée", My very sweet Valentine. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, written at the turn of the 17th century, Ophelia mentions Valentine's Day linking it to romantic love:
To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine. - Act IV scene v

By the early 19th century, the tradition of sending handmade greeting cards to your beloved on Valentine's Day had arisen. Since this time, the celebration of St. Valentine's Day has become consumed with showing others how much we care for them, usually by material means. Many people feel pressured to make a grand gesture of love because it is what is expected of them.

Today, while we may still celebrate the feast day, St. Valentine is no longer on the universal calendar of saint feast days. Universally, February 14th celebrates the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, brothers, born around A.D. 825 who spent their lives evangelizing the people of Eastern Europe. They are considered the Patrons of the Unity of the Eastern and Western Churches. While we spend today (and hopefully everyday) showing our loved ones how much we care for them, let us also take some time to remember St. Valentine of Rome, St. Valentine of Terni, St. Valentine of Africa and Sts. Cyril and Methodius:

God, thank you for the gift of your grace in the sacraments and through this grace give us the strength and courage to stand for you even to the point of death.We also pray for further unification of the East and West Church so that the Church may once again breathe with both lungs.
St. Valentine, pray for us.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pray for us.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How will future generations see us?

When I think back to the times of slavery or WWII Germany, I often wonder what it was like for everyday people. Why did they let injustice continue as long as it did? Did they feel powerless to stop it? Were they indifferent because it did not effect them? Did they think that it wasn't their place to step in, did they trust the judgment of those in authority and power?

So many questions to ponder about societies long ago. Will future generations ask these questions of us? In a hundred years, will people wonder how our generation allowed the injustice of denying personhood to the unborn? Will they wonder how so many people sat idle while over 50 million people were slaughtered? Will our grandchildren ask us, "What was it like living in a time of such injustice?"

I think they will, mainly because of two things. There is a great injustice being perpetrated all over the world under the guise of gender equality and "private family matters". Millions of people have legally been killed for over 40 years, which makes this one of the greatest injustices of all history. I also know that we are winning this fight. Since 2009, pro-life Americans have outnumbered those who consider themselves pro-choice. Pro-abortion groups are nervous at the make-up of Congress after the most recent elections, because of the new strong pro-life members. Bills that defend the dignity of all human life are being introduced and seem to have a good chance of being passed. Hundreds of thousands of people walked in the March for Life this year in D.C and many other marches have sprung up around the country; California, Texas, Louisiana, Oregon are just a few.

I have great hope that we will overcome this and two generations from now people will wonder how on earth we could have allowed this for so long. I just hope I have a good answer for them.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Martin Niemöller 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Live Action Exposes Medically Innacurate Information at Planned Parenthood Clinic

For the last 2 1/2 years, Live Action has been going undercover at Planned Parenthood clinics to expose the illegal practices of many clinics. They have had some success with authorities, for instance, a Birmingham clinic that was shown covering up statutory rape was put on probation after the Attorney General launched an investigation. They have conducted a total of 14 undercover operations exposing various unethical or illegal actions at 14 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. They have discovered attempts to cover up statutory rape, taking donations to abort specifically African-American children, and giving out medically inaccurate information during counseling.

In July, they went undercover at a clinic in Indianapolis, Indiana and discovered clinic staff counseling women that the heart does not start beating until the 8th or 9th week of development. In actuality, the heart begins to beat 3 weeks and 1 day after conception. The staff member also said , "It's not a baby, it's a fetus," which, she claims, is "not like a person." Even though looking at a picture of a "fetus" will tell you that it is very much "like a person."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3,000 People Gathered in Downtown Baton Rouge to Work Toward an Abortion-Free Louisiana

Saturday, January 22nd was the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that made abortion-on-demand legal through all nine months of pregnancy. At 10 am, 3,000 people from Louisiana gathered behind the Old State Capitol to prayerfully walk through downtown to the State Capitol, in the first ever Louisiana Life March. Once at the Capitol steps, the crowd was greeted with the beautiful voices of a group of singers from Louisiana College in Pineville. Many religious and civil leaders were there lending their support for Louisiana to be the first abortion-free state. Bishop Muench started with a prayer and then Senator David Vitter spoke about his efforts to bring pro-life bills in front of the United States Senate. Also to speak was Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Dr. Land gave some startling statistics about the sheer numbers of people that have been killed through abortion. Many of us know that about 52 million lives have ended from abortion in America since the Roe v. Wade decision, but sometimes it is difficult to put that number in perspective. Dr. Land mentioned that more people have died from abortion in America, than all the casualties from all of the wars America has been involved in from the French and Indian War through the current list of casualties from the Middle East. A statistic that hits closer to home for most of us is that over 400,000 Louisiana lives have been ended by abortion. That is roughly the same amount of people as the entire East Baton Rouge parish. The most moving part of the morning was the testimony by Tears to Treasures founder, Michelle Durand. Michelle grew up in New Iberia and at 14 when she became pregnant she was taken to Baton Rouge’s Delta Women’s Clinic for an abortion. It took her 20 years to find healing and peace after her experience and now she has dedicated her life to helping other women who have gone through the tragedy of abortion.

The Louisiana Life March was one of many pro-life marches across the country over the last couple of weeks, the largest of which was the March for Life in Washington D.C. with an estimated 400,000 people in attendance. Youth from the Diocese of Baton Rouge filled seven buses to attend the march in D.C. One of our parishioners, Kathleen Lee, was a chaperone on the trip, she described her favorite part of the march as, “seeing the faces of the kids when we walked up to the National Mall to join the march. They were so excited to see the immensity of the crowed that had gathered to stand up for the dignity of life. To hear the youth pray and sing was incredible and they were a witness to their faith. They were so on fire and their hearts were changed by the experience.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

A call for "communication which is at once respectful and sensitive"

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, in his annual message for the World Day of Social Communications, to imitate Christ in our online discussions.

We must be aware that the truth which we long to share does not derive its worth from its 'popularity' or from the amount of attention it receives.
The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive.

Jesus, help us to be more like you in our lives. In all of our interactions, whether online or in person, help us to act and speak in charity and share your love with the world. Let us not seek to promote ourselves, but to point people towards you.

Mother Mary, pray for us that we may imitate your way of drawing people to Christ.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mommy, where do babies come from?

I'm sure many of us remember asking this question to our parents and every adult remembers the answer, "Well, honey, when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much..." Why is that talk so often uncomfortable for parents? Because it means it's time to have the "sex talk." Ever since we were young we knew: sex is where babies come from.

So why, as a society, have we forgotten this simple fact? In the last 40 years we have gradually created a great divide between sex and babies. It has occurred from two angles. With contraception, we have convinced ourselves that there is no need for sex to ever result in babies unless we want it to. With artificial reproductive technology we have convinced ourselves that babies can be created in a laboratory if we so desire instead being the natural result of a sexual union.

I think this divide between sex and babies is one factor why abortion is so prevalent in our society. Women and men are told that if they use "protection", they will not get pregnant. They trust this, because even though they learned, perhaps years earlier, where babies come from, they believe in the "proven" methods of contraception. So what happens when that trust is betrayed? They end up with an "unintended" pregnancy and often end up at the abortion clinic. Many people believe that if we distribute more contraception we will have less unintended pregnancies and less abortions, but I wholeheartedly disagree. According to the Guttmacher Institute's Facts on Induced Abortion, January 2011, "Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method the month they became pregnant." That is more than half. If you live your life convinced that you are "protected" from becoming pregnant, but otherwise engaging in behavior that science has proven leads to pregnancy, it is not surprising that when you become pregnant it can be difficult to see that new life as anything other than an unwanted intrusion into your world.

I am not claiming that sex is only for procreation, simply that you cannot separate the two. Sex is very good at creating babies. Even oral contraceptives, for instance, do not only try to prevent conception, because if so they would have a much higher failure rate than they already do. According to the manufacturers, birth control pills work in three ways, the first two attempt to prevent conception (fertilization), but the third way actually prevents implantation after conception has already occurred. Basically, it prevents the uterine lining from building up so in case conception does occur, it causes a very early miscarriage of the pregnancy. Too early for anyone to know that they were ever pregnant.

We need to restore the connection between sex and babies. We need to remind people of what they learned when they were young. There would be no such thing as unintended pregnancies if we better understood our bodies and appreciated the wonderful gift from God that new life is.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oh What Power There is in Language!

It's been said before, but I must admit "pro-choice" is quite a clever term. Who isn't a fan of choice? I make choices all day long; some good, some bad, but none the less I enjoy the freedom to make them.One of the choices I have made is the choice to be pro-life. Does that count? Is that valid in the "pro-choice" movement? The short answer is no. People who believe that life should be protected as all stages of development are labeled "anti-choice", another great use of language. This implies that we are against choice, but as I said we make choices all day long. It's quite irrational to suggest that we are against ALL choice so it must be a euphemism to a specific choice. Why can't we call it what it is? I am perfectly okay with stating that I am anti-abortion. I use the term pro-life because it encompasses more that just abortion, but it is absolutely accurate to say that I am against the supposed right of abortion.

My question is "What do you mean by choice?" Are you specifically referring to the choice of abortion? Yes, according to the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).
We believe that women should have option to choose abortion. Today they can, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. But even though access to abortion is legal, our right to it is far from safe. Anti-choice groups attack our right to choose at every opportunity
The real question boils down to when does someone's choice interfere with the right's of another person. That's what the debate is really about. Look at the situation in Pennsylvania. Dr. Kermit Gosnell is charged with the murder of 7 newborns that he delivered alive then killed, and there seems to be a consensus among all people in the abortion debate that what he did was wrong. One pro-choice blogger wrote, "There is no excuse for killing newborns. That is not what being pro-choice is about."

The real difference in the two sides is where the line is drawn that denotes life. Some draw the line at birth, some at viability, some when it "looks like a baby", some at implantation and some at fertilization. Where do we go to get a clear answer to this question? Science? Philosophy? Religion? I believe that all three of these agree that at fertilization a distinct organism is created. It has DNA all its own and it immediately begins to grow develop and has a certain autonomy. Yes, it is dependent on another source for this continued growth, but so is a newborn, a two year-old, a twelve-year old, a severely disabled person, and many elderly persons. No man is an island; we all depend on others in order to thrive in our environments, yet we are all distinct human individuals with God-given rights that should be protected by law.

This is why I am Pro-Life