Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The issue of "personhood"

Deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues. Trying to avoid this fact by redefining when human personhood begins is simply a corrupt and corrupting form of verbal gymnastics.
- Archbishop Charles Chaput, in Render Unto Caesar

You see this "gymnastics" all over the internet on pro-abortion blogs and in comments on anti-abortion blogs. It's just semantics. And, if they really don't know, shouldn't they err on the side of life?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Development and Peace Fall Campaign

It's kind of ridiculous. Today's announcement made by the representative for Development and Peace in our parish concluded with asking us to create "bottled water free zones". Come again?

Yes, the fall campaign of D & P focuses on the assertion that bottled water is not better than tap water, and that bottled water companies are now taking over water sources in the third world to provide bottled water for those in the first who think that it is healthier than tap water.

Whether or not this assertion is true is a matter that should be investigated, not simply stated from the pulpit. Telling us that 80% of the bottles used are not recycled without telling us where she got that information is suspicious; but what matters more is that this really is an area for the environmentalists to have their hey-day. They can take on this issue and they will do it much better; why is the organization Development and Peace doing this?

Their efforts should focus on improving life in the third world with the truths of the Gospel foremost. Becoming engaged in a war about "bottled water" is surely something better handled by Green Peace than by Development and Peace. But I suppose, given the allegations over the last year of their support for abortion-promoting groups, water might be seen to be a lot safer than helping women and children for instance. What's next for D & P? I hope that they will simply fade away as people become aware of their strange agendas.

Vigil for Nascent Life

And I was pleasantly surprised, even more than that, I was grateful. The vigil for nascent life held last night at St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax was a two-hour vigil with solid prayers, wonderful music, and a deep thoughtful homily by Archbishop Mancini. It followed the recommended outlines set out by the Vatican with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, and benediction.

Archbishop Mancini is a wonderful homilist and his homily actually echoed many of the statements made by the Pope in his homily at St. Peter's. AB Mancini had translated some of the Pope's remarks from listening to the live broadcast from Rome earlier that afternoon.

The full text of Pope Benedict's homily can be read here but I have lifted a few sentences that I found particularly meaningful:

Dear brothers and sisters, our coming together this evening to begin the Advent journey is enriched by another important reason: with the entire Church, we want to solemnly celebrate a prayer vigil for unborn life. I wish to express my thanks to all who have taken up this invitation and those who are specifically dedicated to welcoming and safeguarding human life in different situations of fragility, especially in its early days and in its early stages. The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: ” he who will be a man is already one” (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.

And, like Pope Benedict, Archbishop Mancini ended his homily by committing us to the care of Jesus' mother, concluding with the words "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death".

Thank you, Archbishop Mancini. Thank you.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When does a fetus become a person?

Suzanne of Big Blue Wave posted this a few days ago, and yesterday Fr. Tim Moyle posted it.

CBC video from 1972

Reflecting on the fact that my own first baby was born several weeks premature, I realised that my experience gives testimony to the fact that personhood is part of the identity of all human beings, whether born or yet-to-be-born. The fact that Rebecca entered the world of visible human beings earlier than expected, attests to her membership in the human race. As Dr. Usher says:

"Obviously a baby is exactly the same as he is going to be, after birth,(as) one minute before birth; he is just in a different place."

So how have we managed to stray so far from this obvious truth in the past 40 years?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Linda Gibbons Blog

The case of Linda Gibbons has been of interest to me for a couple of years now and I periodically post about this pro-life victim. I decided that the subject deserves its own blog.
I have put one up, with the history of Linda's arrests and time in jail. Some years are not clear as the page on LifeSiteNews has disappeared with their new website. I will fill in what is missing as soon as I can find the info.

Free Linda

I have been corresponding with Linda since Christmas 2008 and her letters arrive regularly, at least one per month. So I am including excerpts from her letters as well on the blog.

The blog is intended to simply bring public awareness to Linda's plight. For the past 16 years, she has spent more than half of them in jail. Her crime - protesting outside an abortion clinic in Toronto, and breaking the injunction that put a "temporary bubble zone" there in 1994.

For someone who doesn't hurt a fly, that is a lot of time to have spent in jail for your convictions. And all that time, the staff of the abortion clinic have free access to their clients on the sidewalk although Linda does not. Yet the sidewalk is a public zone; so why is Linda forbidden to be there, yet pro-abortion supporters can do whatever they want in that same space?

Clearly, this is a miscarriage of justice. And to think that this happens in Canada is shocking, we are supposed to be a free democratic country. This sort of thing only happens in places like North Korea, or so we think.

The recent arrest of pro-life students on Carleton University campus is bringing this kind of biased justice to light. You can have free speech on anything, just be sure it isn't anti-abortion.

Years ago, a woman in England heard about Linda and contacted Amnesty International, thinking that surely this organization would intervene. They refused, stating that they would not get involved in a case about abortion. And the last few years has shown that Amnesty is solidly pro-choice.

I think that it is only the general public who can make this issue more known. Canadians, no matter what their stand on abortion, should be embarrassed that our justice system has kept a woman like Linda Gibbons in jail for longer than the term served by Karla Homolka.

Please visit the site, post comments, and pass it along so that people will become aware of the silent injustice that is being done to this woman.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seeking a Comfort Zone

Pope Benedict has called for a "world-wide vigil for all nascent human life" on the Saturday evening before the beginning of Advent. So next Saturday, November 27, Catholic churches throughout the world will be joining together in prayer for the sanctity of life, specifically life in the womb, life at the moment of conception, life endangered from abortion, from IVF, from embryonic stem cell research.

Every week for the past month, this vigil has been announced in the archdiocesan bulletin in Halifax. And every week, whoever writes the announcement tries to skirt the issue. I would like to know why.

Here is this week's announcement:

Are you expecting a baby? Are you or a family member facing serious illness? Are you struggling with questions and concerns about your own worth and the meaning of your life?
Plan to come to St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica on Saturday evening, November 27, 7 - 9pm to join in the worldwide prayer vigil to invoke God's protection over every human being called into existence. This vigil marks the beginning of the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation of Our Lord which gives every human life its real worth and dignity.
All are welcome to share in this time of prayer.

What part of "nascent" do they not understand? Nascent means "coming into being; beginning to develop". Surely the writer of this announcement had the sense to look up the word in the dictionary. But the announcement would indicate they did not.

Every day of the year, the Church includes intentions for people in difficult life situations. Every daily Mass has prayer intentions that include prayers for the poor, prayers for the disadvantaged, prayers for the sick and dying. This vigil was called specifically to pray for those who are at the beginning of their lives and whose lives are threatened. The Pope has spoken often of the culture of death in the world and the threat that this poses to the very foundation of our faith - that God created man in His own image and likeness. God is the author of life, not man. And abortion, IVF, embryonic stem cell research, cloning are all ways in which man seeks to take that role over from God. That is the reason behind calling for the vigil for all nascent human life. Praying for life that is threatened by illness, poverty, war, marginalization are issues that no one in present-day society has any trouble with. But the issues of abortion, IVF, scientific research using cells from aborted babies, are all issues that divide people strongly into two camps.

I would like to know who is behind this usurpation of the vigil here in Halifax, who is trying to disguise the Pope's intention in the language of the "seamless garment", a theology that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said is misleading.

This vigil gives Catholics an opportunity to proclaim publicly their belief in God's sovereignty over life and gives us an opportunity to publicly pray against the threats to society that come from the mindset of the "culture of death". Why, oh why, would those who hold the reins of power in this diocese try to mutate this opportunity into something that they think is more suitable, more politically correct perhaps?

The result of such efforts is a dumbing down of Catholic belief; it is making the Church here mediocre and weak. It is only the Catholic church that is speaking loudly and consistently on these issues; therefore it is completely wrong of anyone to try and water down this message when the Pope himself has called for it.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Mt: 5:13

So because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am going to spit you out of my mouth! Rev 3:16

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Support Carleton Lifeline

A new website, where you can sign up to support the students at Carleton University.

Stand With Carleton

Signing the petition is the least we can do. But you can also write or call the President of Carleton and you can also help the students pay their legal fees by donating. Info at the link above.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Carleton University Pro-Life Censored

Carleton Lifeline, the pro-life group at Carleton University, has been told their club is not permitted to function on campus, given their anti-choice position.

Because CUSA, Carleton University Student Association, is pro-choice, they have decided that any group that opposes that stance is discriminatory and should not exist.

National Post article

The truth is that university students are running scared, because the idea that they might be wrong on the issue of abortion, is just too frightening to entertain. If they must face the fact that they may have taken part in the murder of a fellow human being, that truth will shake their world.

Youth used to be the great time of life when one would think and argue about all manner of issues, and youth were always considered fearless. But the issue of abortion hits a nerve too close to home, actually it hits the moral conscience, and so the pro-life message has to be shut down. It is simply too hard to hear.

Because, if the pro-life message is true, then it will convict those who have had abortions or taken part in abortions or advised someone else to have one. It is just too scary to consider. So, shut down the voice that bothers you. Shut it down.

Check out their blog here
Carleton Lifeline

h/t ProWomanProLife

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Talk with Angelina Steenstra

Last night, we held a closing banquet for 40 Days for Life here in Halifax and Angelina Steenstra was our guest speaker. Angelina is the Canadian director of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a movement founded by Priests for Life and Anglicans for Life. It endeavours to bring women forward who have had abortions to be "silent no more", women who have felt that abortion hurt them and damaged them and wish to make that known to others. They are the "eloquent witnesses" to the sanctity of life, as Pope John Paul II called post-abortive women who regret their abortions.

Angelina's talk was intensely personal, relating how surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy forced her to relive her abortion experience, something she had shoved down and repressed for over a decade. This is not uncommon with women who have had abortions; while a woman may experience relief immediately after having an abortion, the regret and pain often do not surface for ten years. But their effects can be seen in certain behaviours; often substance abuse occurs, often sleep problems, definitely relational problems.

Some say that post-abortion syndrome is fabricated; and as with any syndrome, the scientific proof doesn't exist. There is no medical test for the syndrome, there are however the existence of certain factors that indicate the woman is suffering post-traumatic symptoms.

Angelina is a woman of deep faith; this made a big difference between her talk and that of others I have heard. Her journey was one of encountering God's forgiveness and of finding her lost children in His reality. Dismiss it if you wish, but I for one believe that the world we cannot see is more real than the one we do see. I have met several people who live in that spiritual reality and I know that they are more human than many other people I know. They are living a truth that is closer to the human heart and they live "in the constant presence of God".

And what they have to say to us touches the deepest parts of our beings; when women like Angelina share their stories, they call us to that place in our beings where we can stand naked before God and be who we really are - His children. Children who are in need of their father's love, who need to know why they exist and live and suffer, children who need to know where their home is and how to find the way back to it.

I saw many people connect with Angelina last night, and that warms my heart. Some women who have had abortions who can talk with her and share about that deeply painful experience, others who connected with Angelina on other areas. And I know that the fruit of her visit will be seen long after her time here in Halifax. But I do know that she was supposed to come here, that God used her to begin the healing of the sin of abortion in our city. I feel affirmed that our 40 Days for Life prayer vigil has brought about the start of healing and that our prayers and Angelina's journey are somehow connected in that spiritual dimension. I look forward to seeing what those fruits will be.