A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America — By Ian Dowbiggin

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. I reviewed Prof. Dowbiggin’s remarkable book for the National Catholic Register way back in September 2003. “Success” for euthanasia proponents was very limited at that point. Since then, however, they have enjoyed a number of victories, especially in the Netherlands and Belgium and, more recently, Canada.

I am hoping by the end of the day to obtain permission to reprint a withering letter to the editor Prof. Dowbiggin wrote to a Canadian newspaper to rebut a scurrilous attack which, ironically, proved that Prof. Dowbiggin’s “slippery slope” was 100% accurate.

mercifulendbookDo not be thrown by the off-putting title. Professor Ian Dowbiggin’s book is not only a carefully researched and scrupulously fair-minded treatise, but it’s also a highly engaging read. It functions as both a social-science lesson and as a cautionary tale of what happens when “reformers” convince themselves they’ve discovered a formula for pure utopian bliss.

Though short, A Merciful End comprehensively traces the twists and turns primarily of the Euthanasia Society of America. While euthanasia proponents often trimmed their sails to the prevailing winds, the destination for many, if not most, has remained constant: active euthanasia for the willing and in certain circumstances, the unwilling. (The “distinction” to many euthanasia supporters, Dowbiggin writes ominously, “was incidental.”)

The book explodes the myth “that the modern euthanasia movement began only in the 1960s and 1970s with the introduction of life-prolonging medical technology, the decline of the doctor-patient relationship, the rise of the ‘rights culture,’ medicine’s inept handling of end-of-life care and the AIDS epidemic.”

In fact its roots go back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Support for euthanasia was frequently a package deal for members of the avant garde. In Dowbiggin’s words, euthanasia “was a critical component of a broad reform agenda designed to emancipate society from anachronistic and ultimately unhealthy ideas about sex, birth and death.”

We forget how many prominent Americans were supporters of euthanasia and (frequently) its ideological twin sister, eugenics. “Progressives” all, they believed passionately that death would be the “last taboo to fall in the struggle to free Americans from what birth control activist Margaret Sanger, herself an ESA member, called ‘biological slavery.’”

Greasing the skids for euthanasia was the embrace of eugenics — “evolution in a hurry” to many supporters. With a childlike faith in science and technocratic expertise, eugenicists were supremely confident the human race could be perfected through selective sterilization and euthanasia.

The idea of “improving the race” served the interests of the euthanasia movement well until discredited by the Nazis. And while Dowbiggin cautions about “playing the Nazi card,” the similarities in language can be striking.

Until recently, the center of gravity for the euthanasia movement in the United States was Manhattan. Elitist to the core, its membership strongly supported active euthanasia: direct killing and physician-assisted suicide.

But the Euthanasia Society of America and kindred organizations made minimal headway until retooling and softening their message in the late ’60s. By repacking their pitch as a “right to die” issue, they capitalized on our culture’s obsession with individual rights and “choice,” which first took hold in that decade. Rejecting “unwanted treatment” combined an appeal to individual decision making with a fear of an insensitive medical bureaucracy.

From the beginning people of faith and, especially the Catholic Church, were seen by the euthanasia movement as primary opponents. Such people, they complained, exerted a “stranglehold of tradition and religious dogma” that, they decided, had to be broken. What euthanasia proponents may not have anticipated was the virtually uniform opposition of the Disability Rights Community.

A Merciful End offers two explanations for the very limited “success” of the American euthanasia movement. One is a bitter division between the “radicals” and the “moderates” within the euthanasia movement. The other is the rise of a broad-based coalition that came to include the pro-life movement and disability-rights activists. This resistance was aided immeasurably by a 1994 report by the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, an out-of-control Jack Kevorkian and a unanimous 1997 Supreme Court decision that found no right to assisted suicide in the Constitution. And in the last decade, there has been a stunning turnaround with far greater attention paid to pain relief, palliative care and hospice treatment.

These much-needed reforms have changed the chemistry of the debate and offer reason for hope. The same might be said of Dowbiggin’s book.

ABANDONMENT IS MOST SERIOUS ILLNESS OF ELDERLY

Do Not Abandon the Elderly
 Last week in Rome Pope Francis spoke to the Pontifical Academy of Life about the vital role of providing palliative care for the elderly. The Holy Father said, “[A]bandonment is the most serious illness of the elderly and also the greatest injustice they can suffer. Those who helped us to grow must not be abandoned when they need our help, our love, and our tenderness.”Palliative care, the Holy Father observed, alleviates the suffering of the sick and accompanies the elderly with tenderness for the duration of their illness. What palliative care offers in the medical field is the recognition of “the value of the person.”

He noted that many elderly are either “left to die or made to die” due to their physical or social condition. The Holy Father said the criteria governing the actions of doctors must not be limited to medical evidence and efficiency, nor to the rules of heath-care systems and economic profit. “A state cannot think of making a profit with medicine. On the contrary, there is no more important duty for a society than safeguarding the human person,” Francis said.

Palliative care then, bears witness that the human person always has value, even when suffering from age and illness, the Pope continued. “[The human person] is a good in and of himself and for others and is loved by God. For this reason, when life becomes very fragile and the end of earthly existence approaches, we feel the responsibility to assist and accompany the person in the best way,” Francis said.

Francis stated that although this type of care is not geared toward saving lives, it centers on the equally important recognition of the value of the human person. He encouraged those working in the field to carry out their tasks with an attitude of service. “It is this capacity for service to the life and dignity of the sick, even when they are old, that is the measure of the true progress of medicine and of all society,” the Pope observed.

“The elderly, first of all, need the care of family members-whose affection cannot be replaced by the most efficient structures or the most competent and charitable health-care workers,” Francis said. He further stated, when family members are not able to offer the needed care or if the illness of their elderly loved one is advanced or terminal, then the “truly human” assistance offered by palliative care is a good option, so long as it “supplements and supports” the care already provided by family members.

GOD’S ASSURANCE — DECEMBER 2, 2014

What is so new about the promised “mountain of the Lord” is not that the wolf and the lamb are both there, but that the wolf remains a wolf and the lamb a lamb, and yet they dwell together without harm or hurt in God’s kingdom. Under God’s rule, conversion and obedience do not mean the loss of identity but the discovery of our true identity as one in Christ. ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ Magnificat, December 2014, Pages 37-38 ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤

Federal Lawsuit On Behalf of Marine Couple Banned from School Property After He Objected To Islamic Indoctrination Of Daughter

Thomas More Law Center Files Federal Lawsuit On Behalf of Marine Dad Banned from School Property After He Objected to Islamic Indoctrination of Daughter

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, yesterday afternoon, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of former Marine, John Kevin Wood, and his wife, Melissa, who refuse to allow their teenage daughter to be subjected to Islamic indoctrination and propaganda in her high school World History class.  The lawsuit was filed against the Charles County Public Schools, the Board of Education, and the Principal and Vice-Principal of La Plata High School located in La Plata, Maryland.

The Woods’ daughter was forced to profess and to write out the Shahada in worksheets and quizzes.  The Shahada is the Islamic Creed, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”  For non-Muslims, reciting the statement is sufficient to convert one to Islam.  Moreover, the second part of the statement, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” signifies the person has accepted Muhammad as their spiritual leader.  The teenager was also required to memorize and recite the Five Pillars of Islam.

Charles County Public Schools disparaged Christianity by teaching its 11th grade students, including the Woods’ daughter, that: “Most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian.”

The Charles County Public Schools also taught the following:

  • “Islam, at heart, is a peaceful
  • “To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism.”
  • The Koran states, “Men are the managers of the affairs of women” and “Righteous women are therefore obedient.”

Read the two exhibits containing Student worksheets here.

The sugarcoated version of Islam taught at La Plata High School did not mention that the Koran explicitly instructs Muslims “to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.”  (Sura 9-5)

When John Kevin Wood discovered the Islamic propaganda and indoctrination of his daughter, he was rightfully outraged.  He immediately contacted the school to voice his objections and to obtain an alternative assignment for his daughter.

The Woods, as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our Savior, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and that following the teachings of Jesus Christ is the only path to eternal salvation.  The Woods believe that it is a sin to profess commitment in word or writing to any god other than the Christian God.  Thus, they object to their daughter being forced to deny the Christian God and to her high school promoting Islam over other religions.

The school ultimately refused to allow the Woods’ daughter to opt-out of the assignments, forcing her to either violate her faith by pledging to Allah or receive zeros for the assignments.  Together, John Kevin Wood, Melissa Wood, and their daughter chose to remain faithful to God and refused to complete the assignments, even though failing grades would harm her future admission to college and her opportunities to obtain college scholarships.

Adding insult to injury, in an effort to silence all pro-Christian speech in her school, La Plata’s principal, without a hearing or any opportunity to refute the false allegations against him, issued a “No Trespass” notice against John Kevin Wood denying him any access to school grounds.

Wood served 8 years in the Marine Corps.  He was deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and lost friends to Islamic extremists.  A few years later, Wood responded as a firefighter to the 9-11 Islamic terrorist attack on the Pentagon.  Wood witnessed firsthand the destruction created in the name of Allah and knows that Islam is not “a religion of peace.”  The school prevented John Kevin Wood from defending his daughter’s Christian beliefs against Islamic indoctrination, even though as a Marine, he stood in harm’s way to defend our nation, and the Charles County Public Schools.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commented: “Defendants forced Wood’s daughter to disparage her Christian faith by reciting the Shahada, and acknowledging Mohammed as her spiritual leader. Her World History class spent one day on Christianity and two weeks immersed in Islam. Such discriminatory treatment of Christianity is an unconstitutional promotion of one religion over another.”

Thompson added, “The course also taught false statements such as “Allah is the same God worshipped by Christians, and Islam as a “religion of peace. Parents must be ever vigilant to the Islamic indoctrination of their children under the guise of teaching history and multiculturalism.  This is happening in public schools across the country.  And they must take action to stop it.”

The Woods’ lawsuit seeks a court declaration that Defendants violated their constitutional and statutory rights, a temporary and permanent injunction barring Defendants from endorsing Islam or favoring Islam over Christianity and other religions, and from enforcing the no trespassing order issued against John Kevin Wood.

News

Black Leaders Denounce Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear Marriage Protection Cases – Vow to Fight On

On Monday, October 6th, the United States Supreme Court announced, without any explanation, that it would not review court of appeals cases which overturned state laws of five states defining marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman.   And on Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the traditional marriage laws of Idaho and Nevada.

Black Leaders Denounce Supreme Court's Refusal to Hear Marriage Protection Cases – Vow to Fight On

As a result of the decisions this week, 32 states are potentially forced to recognize so called “same-sex marriage” by edict of unelected federal judges holding life-time appointments.

Regardless of these legal setbacks, members of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian Leaders, represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, vow to fight on.

Coalition member, Pastor Danny Holliday, of Victory Baptist Church, Alton, IL commented: “Just as the Supreme was all wrong on slavery, which resulted in the Civil War, it is all wrong on legalizing same-sex marriage.  I have seen prayer removed from schools, Christmas Nativity Scenes removed from public property. I have watched as the words Merry Christmas have become taboo. I have watched the news as we were told that Courts have ruled that crosses were now illegal on Government property, many of them in place since the World Wars.”

Janet Boynes, Evangelist and author of “ARISE”, who is a former lesbian, also expressed disappointment in the Court’s ruling not to hear the cases, “It is a sad day when the Supreme Court, in its own way, comes out in support of gay marriage by refusing to hear our appeals.”

Minister Stacy Swimp of Revive Alive Missional Ministry, stated, The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the marriage protection appeals is both disappointing and alarming.  By its decision not to hear these cases, the Court appears to advance an anti-Christian agenda which in this case will ultimately lead to the disintegration of the family as ordained by God.”

Janet Boynes issued a warning to the nation: “The Generations to come will suffer the consequences of our poor choices. So many people are clueless about who they are and who God has created them to be. But, there is too much at stake for us to throw in the towel. We must rise up and fulfill the call that God has placed on us as a body of Christ. Our future as a nation depends on it!”

At a September 23, 2014 press conference, the Thomas More Law Center revealed a national legal strategy to combat the slew of federal court rulings which have overturned state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Law Center formed a team of lawyers to file friend-of-the-court briefs (amicus briefs) throughout the nation in support of traditional marriage on behalf of the National Coalition of Black Pastors and Christian leaders.  The Law Center’s briefs reflect the view of a majority of African-Americans: that discrimination because of one’s sexual preference is not the same thing as racial discrimination and that tradition and morality should not be discarded as a basis of the law; as the pro-homosexual judges have done in their opinions.

Despite the recent court rulings, the Thomas More Law Center will continue to file amicus briefs in significant cases concerning the definition of marriage in order to convey the unique voice of the African-American Christian community on this issue crucial to the survival of our families, culture, and nation.

Thus far, the Thomas More Law Center has filed 2 amicus briefs on behalf of the Coalition involving petitions for review in the US Supreme Court: Herbert v. Kitchen, an appeal of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Utah’s law defining traditional marriage and Rainey v. Bostic, an appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Virginia’s law defining traditional marriage.  The Supreme Court denied review in both those cases.

The Law Center also filed an amicus brief in Deboer v. Snyder, an appeal of a Detroit federal court decision overturning Michigan’s law on traditional marriage.  That case is awaiting a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Law Center is also planning to file an amicus brief in the Louisiana case of Robicheaux v. Caldwell, currently on its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, February 15, 2016

 

Thomas More Law Center President’s Blog
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From the Desk of Richard Thompson

We Join the Nation in Mourning the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

The Thomas More Law Center joins the nation in mourning the loss of a great American, defender of our Constitution and a devout Christian — Antonin Scalia. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Maureen, and his family. May he rest in peace.

In a speech to the Knights of Columbus several years ago he said:

“If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed.”

Justice Scalia stayed true to his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution despite the political winds of the moment.  On many occasions he did so with provocatively expressed legal arguments which earned him the respect of political conservatives and the enmity of the liberal legal establishment.

One of his greatest dissents was in the recent 2015 Supreme Court opinion, Obergfell v. Hodges, making same–sex marriages a constitutional right.

  • “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”
  • “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”
  • “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”
  • “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.
  • “A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”
  • “[T]o allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”
  • “[W]hat really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”
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Thomas More Law Center Petitions Supreme Court—

Stop Retaliation against Christian Police Captain Who Objected to Islamic Indoctrination

On Monday September 15, 2014, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed a petition in the US Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which upheld the punishment of Tulsa, Oklahoma police captain, Paul Fields after he refused to attend or order personnel under his command to attend proselytizing services at an Islamic Mosque with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel for TMLC, commented, “This case is another startling example of applying a double standard when Christian civil rights are involved. If this were a Catholic or Protestant prayer event, I am positive no Muslim police officer would have been ordered to attend. Further, no federal court would have approved the punishment of a Muslim officer had he refused to attend.”

The event at issue, dubbed “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” had nothing to do with any official police function. Rather, it included a mosque tour, meetings with local Muslims and Muslim leadership, observing a weekly prayer service, familiarizing the officers with Islamic religious books, and lectures on Islamic beliefs, Mohammad, Mecca, and how Muslims pray. The event was scheduled for Friday, March 4, 2011—Friday being the Islamic “holy day.”

The event was originally voluntary, but when not enough officers were willing to attend, it became mandatory.

After the event, the mosque posted pictures of officers who were in attendance on their website with the caption “Discover Islam Classes for Non-Muslims.”

The mosque showed its true colors when a week before the March 4th event, it hosted a dinner and speech by Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1992, Wahhaj told a Muslim audience in New Jersey, “If only Muslims were more clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.”

In another sermon, Wahhaj said: “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”

Captain Fields objected to attending the Islamic proselytizing event based upon his Christian beliefs. As a police officer, Captain Fields was strictly prohibited from discussing his Christian faith while on duty. Therefore attendance at the event created a conflict and a moral dilemma. For raising his sincere religious objection, Captain Fields, a 16-year police veteran with a stellar record, was stripped of his command, transferred to another division where he was subsequently assigned to the graveyard shift, and subjected to an Internal Affairs (IA) investigation.

When Captain Fields defended his religious freedom by retaining the TMLC and filing a federal lawsuit to protect his First Amendment rights, the City of Tulsa retaliated against him. The City issued a personnel order against Captain Fields reflecting that the lawsuit and the publicity the lawsuit garnered brought discredit upon their police department.

In compelling deposition testimony in his favor, Police Major Julie Harris, Captain Fields’ immediate supervisor testified:

The Tulsa Police Department retaliated against Fields for exercising his constitutional rights.

Captain Fields had the right to object to the order to attend the Mosque because of his deeply held religious beliefs.

Captain Fields was punitively transferred for invoking his constitutional rights.

There was no need for Captain Fields to attend the Mosque if he had a religious conviction against doing so and there was no crime to investigate.

Captain Fields was the top performing shift commander in his division.

Captain Fields’ punishment was inconsistent with other similarly situated officers of his rank.

The allegations of the Internal Investigation of Captain Fields could not be sustained.

Erin Mersino, the TMLC attorney handling the case for the Law Center commented, “The matter is now ripe for the United States Supreme Court’s review. As the petition states, the City of Tulsa has been allowed to punish a public employee, Captain Fields, for his right to seek redress of a civil rights violation in court. The Thomas More Law Center is hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will step in to right the wrongful punishment and retaliation Captain Fields has faced because of his Christian beliefs.”

The TMLC devotes much of its efforts to countering the Stealth Jihad waged by Muslims in the United States, as well as defending the religious freedom of Christians. It has been representing Captain Fields since 2011.

PAY ATTENTION AMERICA – This threat is real and alive!

 

Detroit ISNA Conference – Stealth Jihad for The Subjugation of America

MtRushmore

ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) will be holding its annual convention in Detroit this weekend beginning Friday, August 29 and ending September 1.  ISNA was designated by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case, the largest terrorism financing trial in American history.   A 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum introduced in that trial identified ISNA as one of its front organizations. The memorandum further stated the Brotherhood’s “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within … so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Detroit ISNA Conference – Stealth Jihad for The Subjugation of America

Astonishingly, despite ISNA’s terrorist ties, former President Jimmy Carter will be the convention’s keynote speaker.  Carter, also, recently called for the legitimization of Hamas, which is listed by the US government as a terrorist organization.   In addition to Carter, several other prominent non-Muslim political leaders will be speaking at the convention.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about an hour’s drive from Detroit, commented, “The participation of these political leaders is giving the ISNA convention the cover of respectability and as a result is enabling ISNA and other the other Muslim extremists at the convention to achieve their goal of a “Grand Jihad” to subjugate America.” 

An integral aspect of ISNA’s plan for the subjugation of America is to portray itself as a peaceful, mainstream charitable institution.  It is part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy of “civilization jihad.”  While most Americans are focused on violent jihad, civilization jihad is even more dangerous to American security.  According to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, it is “a form of political and psychological warfare that includes multi-layered cultural subversion, the co-opting of senior leaders, influence operations, propaganda and other means of insinuating Shariah gradually into Western societies.”

Erick Stakelbeck, a terrorism expert and author of the book “The Brotherhood: America’s Next Great Enemy,” compared the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy to that of “termites.”  “The Muslim Brotherhood in America and really around the world are like termites. They burrow into a host society. They eat away at it until the day comes where they are ready to make their move.”

Siraj Wahhaj, one of the scheduled speakers at the conference, was the first Muslim cleric to deliver opening prayers to Congress.  In his prayer he recited from the Koran and asked God to guide America’s leaders “and grant them righteousness and wisdom.”  A year later, he told a Muslim audience in New Jersey that, “If only Muslims were more clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.” He was later named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In one of his sermons, Wahhaj said: “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing, and the only thing that will remain will be Islam.” 

Abdurahman Alamoudi conducted the Muslim Brotherhood’s most successful infiltration of our political and defense establishments.  He advised Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.  He penetrated and compromised our military and both the Democrat and Republican national organizations.   He established the Muslim Chaplain Program for the Defense Department.  He was the certifying authority for Muslim chaplains serving with the U.S. military.  He appeared with President Bush at a press conference days after the 9/11 attacks.  In 2005, the U.S. Treasury Department publicly admitted that Alamoudi was the top Al-Qaeda fundraiser in the United States.  Alamoudi is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for his terrorist related activities.

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood, told a youth conference in Toledo, Ohio in 1998, “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America.”

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A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF WORSHIP

A Right Understanding of Worship

The way back to God is the way of worship. If all that we are and become and do in our many-leveled life could be made one in worship, we should be saints. Some people think that Christian morality is no more than a series of don’ts; others a little less ill-informed think it is no more than a series of dos. These things are included, for being and doing are interdependent, but it is being that comes first in importance; and Christian morality tells us first of all not what we should do, still less what we should not do, but what we should be.
That is why you cannot possibly separate, as some people would have us do, the Church’s moral teaching from its beliefs about God’s revelation of himself to the world. You cannot possibly separate them, because the moral teaching is entirely determined by the doctrine; and if you try to isolate it, you destroy it. You could isolate this or that element in it; you could cling to the ideals of justice, kindness, generosity, fortitude; but these virtues would then cease to be the Christian virtues, because they would be divorced from worship.
FATHER GERALD VANN, O.P.
Father Vann (+ 1963) was an English Dominican and a popular preacher, lecturer, and author.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE By ROBERT SPAEMANN

OPINIONS

Divorce and Remarriage by Robert Spaemann
The divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whether it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.
The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.
Sadly, the Catholic Church is not without blame. Christian marriage preparation very often fails to give engaged couples a clear picture of the implications of a Catholic wedding. Were that so, many couples would very likely decide against being married in the Church. For others, of course, good marriage preparation would provide a helpful impetus to conversion. There is an immense appeal in the idea that the union of a man and a woman is “written in the stars,” that it endures on high, and that nothing can destroy it, both “in good times and in bad.” This conviction is a wonderful and exhilarating source of strength and joy for spouses working through marital crises and seeking to breathe new life into their old love.
Instead of reinforcing the natural, intuitive appeal of marital permanence, many churchmen, including bishops and cardinals, prefer to recommend, or at least to consider, another option, one that is an alternative to Jesus’s teaching and basically a capitulation to the secular mainstream. The remedy for the adultery entailed by remarriage of the divorced, we are told, is no longer to be contrition, renunciation, and forgiveness but the passage of time and habit, as if general social acceptance and our personal comfort with our decisions and lives have an almost supernatural power. This alchemy supposedly transforms an adulterous concubinage that we call a “second marriage” into an acceptable union to be blessed by the Church in God’s name. Given this logic, of course, it is only fair for the Church to bless homosexual partnerships as well.
But this way of thinking is based on a profound error. Time is not creative. Its passage does not restore lost innocence. In fact, its tendency is always just the opposite—namely, to increase entropy. Every instance of order in nature is wrested from the grip of entropy and over time eventually falls under its dominion once again. As Anaximander puts it, “From whence things arise, to that they eventually return, according to the appointed time.” It would be wrong to repackage the principle of decay and death as something good. We should not confuse the gradual deadening of the sense of sin with its disappearance and release from our ongoing responsibility for it.
Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements”remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path.
To stand by our fellow Christians in the midst of the perplexitas of remarriage, to show them empathy and assure them of the solidarity of the community, is a work of mercy. But to admit them to communion without contrition and to regularize their situation would be an offense against the Blessed Sacrament—one more among the many that are committed today. Paul’s instruction on the Eucharist in First Corinthians culminates in a warning against unworthy reception of Christ’s body: He who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself. Why did the liturgical reformers strike these decisive verses from the second reading for Mass on Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi, of all feasts? When the entire congregation stands up to receive communion Sunday after Sunday, one has to wonder: Do Catholic parishes now consist exclusively of saints?
But there is still one last point, which by all rights ought to be the first. The Church admits that it handled the sexual abuse of minors without sufficient regard for the victims. The same pattern is repeating itself here. Has anyone even mentioned the victims? Is anyone talking about the woman whose husband has abandoned her and their four children? She might be willing to take him back, if only to ensure that the children are provided for, but he has a new family and has no intention of returning.
Meanwhile, time passes. The adulterer would like to receive communion again. He is ready to confess his guilt, but he is not willing to pay the price—namely, a life of continence. The abandoned woman is forced to watch while the Church accepts and blesses the new union. As if to add insult to injury, her abandonment receives an ecclesiastical stamp of approval. It would be more honest to replace “until death do you part” with “until the love of one of you grows cold”—a formula that is already being seriously recommended. To speak here of a “liturgy of blessing” rather than of a remarriage before the altar is a deceptive sleight of hand that merely throws dust in the eyes of the people.

—First Things, August/September 2014, page 18.
Robert Spaemann is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich.

PRAYER FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY

George Washington’s Inauguration

( A Prayer for the Fourth of July 2014)

Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed your glory to all nations.                                                                                                                           God of power and might, wisdom and justice,                                                                                                                                                                            through you authority is rightly administered,                                                                                                                                                                  laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.                                                                                                                                                                         Assist with your spirit of counsel and  the President of these United States,                                                                                                                     that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,                                                                                                                                           and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides.                                                                                                                                   May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.                                                                                                                                                     May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.                                                                                                                                                                 May he seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.                                                                                                                                                              We, likewise, commend to your unbounded mercy                                                                                                                                                              all who dwell in the United States.                                                                                                                                                                                          Bless us and all people with the peace which the world cannot give.                                                                                                                               We pray to you, who are Lord and God, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.     — Archbishop John Carroll (alt.)

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