Lesson 15- Examination Of Conscience [part 4]
Well, we are coming close to the end of our examination of conscience and are preparing to discuss some of the reforms that we should consider to get us out of the mess we created and, hopefully, to prevent us from making the same mistakes again. This is a great opportunity for us to change direction and, as Christian, to move a few steps closer to creating the Kingdom of God on earth. But before we can close the book on our examination of conscience there are still a few things that we have to consider.
As I ended my last program, I was talking about how we, as a Silent Majority, have failed to use our economic and political powers to protest the violence and sexual depravity that began on the cable networks and is now moving to the major networks. If you are unaware of what is taking place, I suggest that you subscribe and support the Parents Television Council, a “watchdog organization, that surveys TV programs and identifies the major offenders and their sponsors. If you are not offended by what they report, then you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We and our children are becoming desensitized to the point that things that would have shocked and outraged us years ago, hardly create a “blip” on our moral conscience. It’s as the poet Yeats once wrote:
“Vice (or Evil) is a monster of so frightful mien – a word that means appearance
As to be hated, needs but to be seen…
But seen too often, familiar with her face…
We first endure… then pity… then embrace…
Too often the argument is made that just because we watch something, it doesn’t mean that we are going to do it. However, even if this is true, it doesn’t take into account the fact that by being desensitized we fail to oppose it and this results in another observation by Yeats. He writes:
“Things fall apart… the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the earth….
The best lack all conviction
While the worst are full of passionate intensity…
In other words, while the “Silent Majority”, who are the “best that lack all conviction”, fail to register their values either through word or action, those responsible for the increasing depravity, who are the “worst full of passionate intensity”, succeed in shifting the culture to what they value. And the result is that things begin to fall apart. Values that are not defended will soon be replaced by values that are defended. So let us begin our examination of conscience by admitting that we have failed to support those who have tried to support traditional values either through non-compliance with their efforts, or, even worst, by supporting those whom they opposed. Once again Wisdom, or Jesus, asks us the question…
Was it wise for large numbers of Catholics to support political candidates, especially those who claimed to be Catholic, whose voting records on major moral issues, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, were in direct opposition to the moral teachings of the Church. Not only did this indirectly give added support to those who favored these practices, but, even worse, it undermined the credibility of the leaders of the Church when their public urging to vote against these candidates were ignored by many of their followers. As a result, the Church, which, representing over 65 million Catholics in the United States, should be a power to recon with, is becoming a powerless institution that can be ignored and ridiculed, sometimes with the support of its own members.
And how did this happened? It wasn’t just the last election when it is possible that many defectors, who might have followed the Church’s directives in previous election, chose instead to vote for a Democratic Party that supported abortion and embryonic stem cell research because the outgoing Republican Administration left under the worst possible circumstances: two unresolved wars in the Middle East and the worst depression since 1929. No! Long before this, the politicians already began to suspect that Catholic were not united when it came to voting their moral beliefs as stated by the Church simply by observing the following happenings.
First, the state of Massachusetts, whose population is overwhelmingly Catholic consistently votes for
Catholic candidates, like Ted Kennedy, who openly opposes the Church’s teachings on major moral
issues. In fact, these candidates are often more outspoken and aggressively supportive of these
violations of the moral law than are many non-Catholic. Their attitudes was best expressed by Tip
O’Neill, another Irish-Catholic Massachusetts politician, who was Speaker of the House for many
years before his death. When asked to define himself, he said:
“I am a Democrat first… Irish second… and a Catholic third…”
One wonders whether this was the order that he gave to his Creator when he stood before the throne of God.
The present Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is another so-called Catholic that undermines the perception that the Church speaks with a united voice on these issues. And now the President has appointed another so-called Catholic, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius who is pro-abortion, as the Sec. of Health and Human Services, an agency that will have a major voice in the federal government attitude towards this issue. Where do all these pro-abortion Catholic politicians come from and who is it that elects them.? It must be other Catholics, who, by doing so, send the message that the leaders of the Church have very little influence over how they vote or act.
Recently this was noted in an article entitled “Catholic hierarchy finds the flock isn’t so easily led” in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Dick Polman Mr. Polman writes:
“Catholic church leaders had a very bad election in 2008. They assailed Barack Obama as “anti-life” and hence unacceptable. But the flock didn’t listen. Fifty-four percent of Catholic voters cast ballots for Obama, the most decisive Catholic endorsement for a presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan drew the same share in 1984. A similar disconnect between the hierarchy and the rank and file is happening now. Church leaders and traditional Catholics groups are incensed about Kathlee Sebelius, the Kansas governor tapped by Obama to run the agency that guides abortion policy, because she’s a Catholic who defends abortion rights. But the Church has once again failed to galvanize the flock. In fact, a well organized Catholic left is pushing back for the first time, insisting that one can be tolerant of the “pro-choice” stance and still be a good Catholic.”
Hopefully, Mr. Polman is misinterpreting the meaning of the last election. President Obama is a very charismatic and talented person who ran for the presidency at a very opportune time. First, historically, he is the first African-American to run for the presidency and his election symbolized for many American, both white and black, the final nail in the coffin of racism. Thus, many people crossed political and religious lines because they found him appealing as a person and as an historical statement. Second, he was running against a Republican administration that was saddled with two very expensive and inconclusive wars and an economy that resembled the crash of the Great Depression of 1929. Without taking away from the personal appeal and talents of Mr. Obama, under these conditions, it seemed that any Democratic candidate had a better than average chance of being elected. The fact that forty-eight percent of Catholic did not vote for him might just as well indicate a firm resolution that, despite the odds in his favor, his extreme pro-abortion record was enough to reject him. However, who really knows why people vote? Or, for that matter, since the ballot is secret, how does anyone know what percentage of any group of people voted for whom? So Mr. Polman’s observations have to be taken with a”grain of salt.”
However, the existence of so-called Catholic organization that are pro-choice in defiance of the Church’s teachings is, unfortunately, a well documented fact. Mr. Polman mentions two, “Catholics for Choice” and “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good”, which he obviously admires for their so-called independent thinking. He points out that both organization continue to believe that they are within the acceptable boundaries of the Church based on two things: the American Catholic bishops document titled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” and the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas concerning the unborn child.
The first document is based on the Church’s teaching that a person should never act contrary to his conscience. However, this is not a carte blanc for Catholics to do whatever they think. The Church goes on to say, the person must make every effort to have an informed conscience by thoroughly investigating the issue involved. And upon investigation, it is obvious that these two organizations are either in violation of their consciences or are not really Catholic. Let me explain.
Both groups, by supporting “the women’s right to choose” over the “child’s right to life” rationalize their position by claiming that the child’s humanity or personhood is unclear. First, they point to the writings of St. Augustine, who was writing in the 4th century and St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century when the level of scientific knowledge was very primitive. Until recently, it was unclear when the child in the womb became alive since there was no outward indication until the mother felt its movement in the womb. They called this event the “time of quickening” and, based on available knowledge and evidence, they thought that life did not begin until that moment. However, based on the evidence of modern fetology, it is obvious that life begins at the moment of conception and that each child is a unique human person whose whole life is a continuum from conception to death. Even some of the most ardent abortionist, who used to refer to the unborn child as a “blob”, have finally admitted that it is a living human being. However, even if they didn’t, we are well pass the so-called “blob stage” since abortions are presently perform through later stages all the way up to “partial-birth abortions” where the child, who is six-months and beyond, is extracted from the womb, except for his head. A slit at the base of his skull is expanded by scissors, a vacuum device is inserted and his brains are sucked out. How, in the name of truth, can they assert that a human life has not been taken based on the musing of two saints lacking sufficient knowledge, and call this an “informed conscience”? This is not rationality, it is rationalization which is simply trying to find a good reason for doing what you want to do.
Also, how can these so-called Catholic or any pro-abortionist claim to be part of the liberal tradition with its emphasis on human and civil rights when the premise upon which it is based is the same as the Dred Scott Decision and the Holocaust, that is, “there are humans and sub-humans and sub-humans have no rights that humans need to respect.” It has always amazed me that liberals whose eyes tear when they hear Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech fail to see that abortion is a repudiation of his statement that he dreamed of a day when this country would live out the words, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all Men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights among which are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I guess the only thing they disagree with is who are the humans and sub-human and God help those who are too weak , too undeveloped, too powerless, too politically meaningless to assert their humanity and their right to life. Shame on them for their rationalization and hypocrisy.
Thus, the justification that these two so-called Catholic groups used to support their position fail when examined even without mentioning that the document by the Catholic bishops, that they refer to, explicitly stated that abortion was an “intrinsic evil” that could never be justified.
Secondly, they are in violation of their conscience because they claim to be Catholic when they fail the litmus test as a true member of the Church. To be a Catholic one must believe:
That God created the universe and all its laws
That He sent His Wisdom, Jesus Christ, into the world to show us the way to salvation
That Jesus told His Apostles to establish a Church that would take His message to the entire
That he placed Peter, and the rest of the Apostles and their successors, in charge of this Church and told them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven.
That He promised them that He would send them the Holy Spirit of Truth to guide them in
their decisions and whoever heard them, heard him.
That he would be with them till the end of time
That the Pope and the bishops form a Magisterium that speaks in the name of God on issues of faith and morals.
That all Catholic are bound in conscience to obey the Church when it speaks officially and in a binding way on these topics
If a person doesn’t believe any part of this, he is not a Catholic no matter how much he claims to be. He is something else and that is alright so long as he openly admits it. However, if he claims to believe all of these statements and, at the same time, claim that his own opinion is higher than that of the official Church, he is in violation of his conscience. Also, the decisions of the Magisterium, with its power of binding and loosening, trumps St. Augustine, St. Thomas, me, and any other members, no matter how holy, whenever it speaks out in its official capacity because it alone has inherited the Chair of Moses and is responsible for unity within its members.
` In conclusion, we, as Catholic, must repent of the unwise practice of causing disunity in the Body of Christ by undermining the proclamation of our leaders through our words and actions. In doing so, we have lessen the impact and effectiveness of the Church on the modern world and have caused the Body itself to lose members or to fail to attract new members. Jesus’ last prayer before He ascended into heaven was that the Church would be united as He and the Father were. In the final analysis, the devil doesn’t care if we have faith so long as we are not united and he doesn’t care if we are united so long as we don’t have faith because he know that the only effective weapon against his efforts to prevent the coming of the Kingdom of God is a united Church full of believers. Like the Ancient Romans his strategy for victory is “Divide and conquer!” and the present state of the Church, and Christianity as a whole, is proof of its effectiveness.
However, it isn’t even necessary for there to be true unity. The most potent device for affecting economic or political decisions in our society is the “perception of being united.” I say “perception” because there are many groups whose claim to unity far exceeds the actual fact. But because our economic or political leader perceive their leaders as speaking for a united group who will spend or vote according to the dictates of their leaders, their issues receive much more attention than those who are not perceived as united. The most devastating event for any group is to have their leaders speak out on an issue and fail to deliver the promised consequences. And that is what has happening to our Church in the United States. But the opposite also is true. If only once or twice, the majority of Catholics boycotted a product or voted against candidates opposed by the Church, it would reestablish our credibility and people would think twice before they acted without taking our positions into consideration.
The real failure was not this past election where there were so many important side issues, like the economy the wars and the historical opportunity to elect our first African-American president, that tempted many people to cross the line in opposition to the recommendations of our spiritual leaders. No! The real failure was in past elections, where the issues were not as compelling, in which Catholics, and Christians in general, failed to speak and act in a united way on major moral issues. It was then that the “perception of disunity” began to replace the “perception of unity” and our economic and political leaders began to suspect that our “bark was greater than our bite” and thus there was no benefit to be gained or punishment to fear by listening or failing to listen to our moral concerns. The lesson to be learned is that of our Founding Fathers who, when faced with the task of overthrowing the British crown, declared “United we stand! Divided we fall!”
Karl Marx began a worldwide Communist revolution that has impacted vast areas of the world with the stirring cry, “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains and you have a world to win!” Catholics, and Christians in general, need to hear a similar cry: “ Believers of the world unite, you have something very important to lose, your souls, and you have yours and the world’s salvation to win!” So let us continue to examine our consciences by looking at areas where foolishness has replaced Wisdom and thus are badly in need of reform.
Was it wise for us, and Christians in general, to buy into the dire warnings of secular prophets that over population was so serious that unless we drastically cut our reproduction rate through contraception and abortion, we would be starving in a polluted world depleted of natural resources. At first, these secular prophets of doom predicted that it would take almost one hundred years to reach Zero Population Growth when in reality most Western countries exceeded it within a few decades. I say “exceeded” because now our own government demographers are telling us that the major problem in Western countries is “depopulation” because most European countries and the United States are reproducing well below the replacement rate which is around 2.2 children. Now we are being told that within a few generations there will be no Italians in Italy and that Islamic immigrants in Europe, who don’t believe in contraception or abortion and have a high birth rate, will replace the native population within a few generations.
The reason is because population grows geometrically. For example, my wife and I had eight pregnancies, five of which miscarried. However, the three that survived so far have produced thirteen grandchildren and we are all alive. Thus from two came three that produced thirteen for a total of eighteen people. Now consider that Muslims, who don’t believe in contraception or abortion and sometimes have more than one wife, are reproducing at an even greater rate and you’ll begin to get a glimpse of the future. When I mentioned this to my students, a Muslim girl said that she knew exactly what I meant. She said that when she talks to her American friends, they have less than a hundred relatives while she has over a thousand. At present, Islam is one of the fastest growing religions, not because of conversions, but because of increased population. Compare this to the facts that thirty percent of German women have no children, the Italian birth rate is 1.2, and that over fifty percent of Great Britain’s population is past the age of reproduction and you will see where the future is headed.
Last October, my wife and I were on a river cruise on the Rhine and Danube rivers. As we visited areas in Germany, Austria, and Hungary, I asked our European guides about the local birth rates. In FrankfurtGermany I was told an unbelievable rate of .09 that I hoped was in error. However, at other ports of call I was told rates of 1.3 or 1.4. When I pointed out to one of my guides that if this continued, when compared to the Islamic birth rate, Europe would belong to the Muslims and all these Christian church on our tour would be closed or converted to Mosques. ”Oh,” he said, “I’ll be dead by then!” “And,” I was tempted to add, “so will the Christian European civilization.” “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die!” seems to be the European response to this crisis.
What we are facing here is an immutable natural law. The future belongs to those who reproduce and those who don’t erase themselves genetically, culturally, politically, and influentially out of the Book of Life. All debates and issues are eventually won by those who reproduce, whether they were right or wrong. In the not so distant future, the nuclear weapons and technology of the European countries will be controlled by a dominant Muslim population and, if that happens, one wonders what will be the fate of Israel or the Christian West if radical Islamic forces seize control. Ladies, throw away your bikinis and save your head scarfs a new day might be dawning.
The same trend is happening in the United States but it involves more an Hispanic population from Latin America. From a Catholic point of view, this seems less of a problem since most of them are Catholic. However, that is no guarantee that we wont go through major shifts in political power and cultural practices which could be for the better or the worse. Like Europe, our native population growth is below the replacement rate and we have been forced to allow immigrants, both legal and illegal, to enter the country to perform the jobs that would have been occupied by those who were contracepted or aborted out of existence. Like Europe, we are becoming a nation that is becoming top-heavy with elderly people who depend upon a diminishing base of young people to support them in their declining years. Like a body that, approaching old age and death, is unable to reproduce enough new cells to replace those that have died, our nation is beginning to display the aging process and unless we find a way to revitalize it, we, like many great civilizations, will eventually die.
And yet, this was a great opportunity for Catholics and Christians in general to save the nation and bring it more totally to Christ. The Popes tried to warn us that contraception would open up a Pandora’s Box of unexpected results because it would eventually replace “reproductive sex” with “recreational sex.” We have seen this prediction come true as we watch the increase in sexual activity of all kinds with the decrease in sexual reproduction. Never has any society been so obsessed with sex with so little to show for it. We spend billions creating ways for older people, who are past their reproductive age, to engage in sex, while we work equally hard to make sure those who are in their reproductive years can also avoid reproduction. In our foolishness, are we “missing the mark”, which is the definition for sinning, concerning what sex is really about? Sex without children is proving to be “Much Ado About Nothing.” The orgasm has replaced children as the main focus. And once that happens any type of sex with any kind of person, so long as it produces an orgasm, becomes justifiable.
But, as I said, this was a great opportunity for believers since contraception and abortion were the logical results in this change of attitude about the purpose of sex. If, as with the Muslims in Europe, Christians in this country or elsewhere had rejected these options, the number of believers would have increased exponentially while the number of non-believers would have decreased. Eventually, the future of the country would be in the hands of those that reproduced.
This is not to suggest that we should condone or encourage non-believers to contracept or abort. In principle we must always support and defend life for all people. However, in reality, no matter how hard we try, non-believers are not going to be guided or constrained by our principles even though we must continue to try to convince them. Nor is this necessarily a plan to create a Christian dominated state that would force its views on those who disagreed. Rather, the natural outcome in any capitalistic or democratic society is that the will of the majority will determine the direction of the economy and of the state. If the overwhelming majority refuses to purchase pornography, pornography will die a natural death. If the overwhelming majority refuse to buy or use drugs, drugs will die a natural death. If the overwhelming majority decide to refuse to support programs and advertisers who create material that undermines our basic values, they will die a natural death. If the overwhelming majority refuses to practice or support abortion, abortion will die a natural death. If the overwhelming majority refuse to elect politicians whose lifestyles and policies offend their values, their political careers will die a natural death. Do you get it? The freedom of choice is our most potent weapon both in economic and political affairs when we exercise it in unity.
Unfortunately, not only do we fail to act in unity, but many of us seem to have bought into the contraceptive and, God help us, abortion mentality as much as the people of the world,. And, just as in Europe, unless we change our ways, we will reap what we have failed to sow. The Bible says, we are the “salt of the earth”. And as salt we were suppose to be a preservative of what was good and wholesome in our society. But, says the Bible, if salt should lose it power, it will be good for nothing but to be thrown away.
Again, I want to emphasize that I am not suggesting a wild, irresponsible, thoughtless rush to reproduce as many children as we can. Nor am I limiting it to just Catholics or believers. Instead I am suggesting that all societies, like the body itself, cannot afford to decrease the reproduction of healthy, regular cells while the number of unhealthy, irregular cells are reproducing at a greater rate.
A strange thing is happening in our society. Those who have the most education and largest income have less children while those who have the least education and smallest income have more children. I am not talking about the working poor who often exceed those richer than themselves in moral character and wisdom. However, I am talking about the growing number of uneducated, alcoholic, drug addicted, child abusing and morally bankrupt parents who, like cancerous cells, constantly take from the society without giving anything back, and the increasing rate of divorce and dysfunctional families among all classes. What we are observing is, in a sense, malignant social cancer.
Biologically all of us who have any growth of irregular cells, like a wart, have cancer. But don’t worry. So long as it is benign and not growing, you can live many years without any danger. However, beware and seek immediate medical attention if it become malignant and begin to multiply and grow. The same is true about any social body. All healthy societies can tolerate a few broken and dysfunctional families , few high school dropouts, a few drug addicts, a few child abusing, and morally bankrupt parents, which like benign cancer cells, are no threat to the overall health of the society. However, once they begin to grow and multiply, like malignant cancer cells, they threaten the life of the society if they are not dealt with. Society’s answer is, whenever possible, to sterilize the parent and/or abort the child. The Christian answer is, whenever possible, to transform the parent and save the child by creating a morally healthy environment that encourages self-respect and personal responsibility. However, there is still one more step to be taken. Healthy cells have to reproduce themselves in great enough numbers to overwhelm the effects of unhealthy ones. As the Bible says, “Increase and multiply and take dominion over the earth.”
Well I see that my time is up.