Friday, December 31, 2010

Canada's Abortion Debate

I am always excited when I hear of people engaged in this issue; they have probably been around forever, and I have only just heard of them, but exciting nonetheless.

Thanks to ProWomanProLife

I came across Joseph Ben-Ami, a well-spoken conservative Canadian who is calling for the Canadian government to have the abortion debate that it has avoided since 1988.

You can hear him at this link
Abortion, Parliament, and the Supreme Court of Canada when he was on a talk show on CFRA. Who knew that Canada had anything that resembled talk-radio? Yeah!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sex au Naturel

The author of this book, Sex au Naturel - What it is and Why it's good for your marriage, is visiting family in Halifax this Christmas and our pastor took the opportunity to have him speak at Canadian Martyrs' church last night.

Patrick Coffin is a graduate of religious studies at Mt. St. Vincent University, holds a graduate degree in philosophy from McGill University in Montreal, and a masters in theology from the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. He is currently the host of the most widely-listened-to Catholic radio talk show called Catholic Answers out of San Diego, California. You can check out the radio show here .

Patrick gave an engaging hour-long talk to a group of about 100 people and then took questions from the audience. Afterward, there was a reception and we had a chance to meet Patrick personally and also to buy an autographed copy of his book. If you have a chance to hear Patrick, take advantage of the opportunity, it is well worth it. And of course, if you do or don't, read the book at least.

Patrick was not always a follower of the Catholic Church's teaching on birth control. He began as a critic, became a skeptic, and then was won over to the validity of the church teaching through study and through his own growth in marriage. He is a very good speaker and, for such a young man, he has already overcome the problem of too much self coming across instead of the subject matter. He is able to articulate the teaching and communicate it without any finger-pointing, a rather difficult task given the subject matter.

I took extensive notes and will attempt a brief summary.

1. A lot of people are "wounded" in their sexuality and we are seeing this most blatantly in the current gender confusion. There are many "bruised reeds" in our modern world.

2. Until 1930, when the Anglican Church held the Lambeth Conference and approved of birth control in marriage, all Christian churches were against contraception.
Men like Luther and Calvin had very strong words for contraception, not hesitating to call it akin to murder.

3. The Catholic Church holds that natural family planning can be known by "all good men" because it follows from the natural law. The problem is that man's sinful nature makes us stupid and God knows that we need divine revelation, hence the Commandments.

4. The contraceptive mentality is like a religion itself, having a creed of lust, a priest like Hugh Hefner, the prayer of pornography, and the sacrifice of abortion.

When Pope Paul VI brought out Humanae Vitae in 1968, he did so into a cultural revolution that was underway throughout the western world, and even the clergy expected him to relax the church teaching on contraception. Given the tenor of the times, when sexual restraint was removed by virtue of "the pill", it was almost impossible to get a good hearing for this encyclical. Especially since there seemd to be no side effects (actually I disagree strongly with this point, as I will write in a later post: women are paying dearly for the use of the pill with increased risk of breast cancer). There followed dissent amongst the church; in Canada, we even had the Winnipeg Statement issued a few weeks after the encyclical's publication in which the majority of Canadian bishops seemed to agree with the encyclical until the last statement. In that sentence, they claimed that couples who found it too hard to follow the teaching could rest assured that they were acting in good faith if they followed their own consciences. This opened the floodgate in Canada, at least, to the complete lack of teaching on the subject in our Canadian churches. Other countries did similar things to the Winnipeg statement, although Canada seems to have been the most outspoken in its dissent.

However, what Pope Paul VI predicted as the consequence of artificial birth control, has actually come to pass. Because contraception introduces separation and alienation into an act that is meant to unite man and woman, there follows the principle of the non-procreative orgasm and this leads to a lack of respect for women, the acceptance of sterile sexual acts, and of course abortion because the "unplanned pregnancy" becomes now the "unwanted baby" - a huge difference in perspective.

"Contra" means "against" and "ception" means "the beginning" so contraception means literally "against the beginning". When contraception becomes the theory behind sexual practice, abortion becomes necessary. Every country that has legalized artificial contraception has seen an increase in abortion; the two are fruits of the same tree.

So does the Church say that women then have to be baby-machines and have as many children as biologically possible? Definitely not. What the Catholic Church objects to is the means used to prevent pregnancy, not the prevention of pregnancy. When a couple uses the rhythm of a woman's cycle to space children, they are cooperating with nature but at the same time, they are always open to life. And the reason to be open to life is because we are not the author of it, God is. How many children are not here because couples have decided that one child or two children were all they wanted? In every instance, anyone who is for contraception makes an exception for the night when their mother and father conceived them. That is because life is something we all cherish and we would not wish it otherwise.

So what are the benefits of following the Church's teaching on birth control?
Well, there is no denying the statistics that show couples who use natural family planning actually have much lower divorce rates than couples who use artificial birth control. There is a closer bond between husband and wife, as both are involved in the spacing of their children, not just the woman who pops a pill. Because the root of dissent is fear, couples who are not open to having a child are showing a lack of confidence in divine providence - "the Lord won't take care of this baby that He allowed to be". And this lack of confidence in God's provision results in a crisis of faith that spills over into the rest of their lives.

Natural family planning treats God as an equal partner in a poker game. Contraception treats God as the opponent in the game and regards new life as an object to be avoided. Once we accept artificial contraception, which means sterile sexual acts, then we have no argument against homosexuality or against IVF or pornography, the list goes on.

Scripture is full of passages in which God says "be fruitful and multiply": Genesis 1:27 when God commands Adam to fill the earth, Genesis 9:1 with Noah, Genesis 35:11 to Jacob. Being blessed is associated, in the Bible, with having many children. Psalm 127:3-5 says:

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

As Patrick quipped, what man, preparing for battle with an enemy, would go out with 2.1 arrows in his quiver?

And he then spoke of the false theory of over-population; the reality is a current population implosion in the western world - Russia is now giving prizes to couples who have children on a special day; Greece, Italy, Spain are all destined for decline given that they are not replacing themselves; in Canada our own province of Quebec gives more and more money to couples who will have children, as they face demographic disaster brought on by contraception and abortion.

Patrick likes to use analogies and one that seemed particularly apt was this one: eating is to the human body what sexuality is to the human race. If you see someone eating food and then sticking a spoon down their throat to vomit, you would conclude the person had bulimia, an "eating disorder". So, when we see people engaging in sexual activities but avoiding the natural consequence which is children, we should likewise call that a "sexual disorder". There is a reason that God linked sex and procreation; He could have separated the two but he didn't. And natural family planning respects what God has joined together (double meaning fully intended).

The first principle of the Christian life is to pray. We are called to sanctity, to love with God's love, to take as our example Mary who said yes to everything except sin. The inner truth of conjugal love is to be open to all the possibilities of total self-giving. With contraception, there is no self-mastery and no rhythm of "no, yes, and not yet".

Great talk, get the book. And kudos to Father Mark Cherry who had the guts to bring into the open a subject that most clergy avoid like the plague.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Birth of Jesus Christ

This past week, one of the Gospel readings was the story of the visitation of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary had just assented to become the mother of God's son Jesus and to reassure her that with God all things are possible, the angel Gabriel told her that her cousin was also pregnant. Elizabeth was "advanced in years" and had been barren. Without hesitation Mary went to visit Elizabeth, in my mind she went to help her as Elizabeth would have been six months pregnant and in need of help. Mary remained with her for three months, presumably until baby John the Baptist was born.

The story of the visitation tells of Elizabeth's joy at seeing Mary and she calls her the "mother of my Lord" as Elizabeth must have been given the knowledge of Mary's pregnancy. What amazes me when I hear this story is the fact that John, in Elizabeth's womb, recognizes Jesus in Mary's womb and leaps for joy.

Some people say that the Bible is silent on the subject of abortion. Perhaps directly, but not silent on the sacredness of pregnancy. Throughout the Bible, pregnancy is seen as a blessing, the people of Israel are encouraged to have children and many of them. In fact, if a man had many children, he was seen to have been blessed by God, irrespective of his material well-being.

Don't miss what happens here: baby John is spoken of as a person already in existence and baby Jesus is a person too since John recognizes him. What clearer statement could be made about the personhood of the child in the womb?

And now we come to the Nativity: the most profound statement of our God about the unborn. Jesus could have come to earth in any other way, but God chose to have his Son come through the process of conception and pregnancy and birth, just like the rest of the human race. This speaks volumes about what God would say about abortion. If his Son Jesus spent 9 months within a woman's womb and was born the usual way, and developed as all other babies develop, then we should stand in awe of the process of coming into being. It has been sanctified by God the Father, who allows us to participate in the creation of his children.

Thank you Heavenly Father for choosing to reveal yourself to us in the humble state of a babe in the womb. May we fully realise that all the unborn are our brothers and sisters, because they are brothers and sisters of your son Jesus first.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Voice from Britain

A wonderful article written by Lord Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke of Kent and great grand-son of King George V, and therefore cousin to the present Queen. Lord Windsor recently became a Catholic, which disqualifies him from the throne (not that he would have taken it) and he is father to two children with his wife Paola. He is the first blood member of the royal family to be received into the Catholic Church since 1685.

Lord Windsor's article was printed in First Things on Dec 1 and it is remarkable. Definitely take a minute and read it. It reminds one of the wonderful speeches made by William Wilberforce on the abolition of the slave trade.

Read the article here
Caesar's Thumb

A few excerpts here:

This is a historically unprecedented cascade of destruction wrought on individuals: on sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, future spouses and friends, mothers and fathers - destroyed in the form of those to whom we owe, quite simply and certainly, the greatest solidarity and duty of care because they are the weakest and most dependent of our fellow humans. All else that we concern ourselves with in the lives of human beings derives from the inescapable fact that first we must have human lives with which to concern ourselves. By disregarding this self-evident fact of the debt owed immediately to the unborn - which is to be allowed to be born (and let us not forget that all of us might have suffered just the same fate before our birth) - humanity's deepest instincts are trampled and shattered.

This was only an implausible glimmer in the eyes of the most radically progressive thinkers and activists a century ago. Today legal, permissive abortion is a fact of life so deeply embedded and thoroughly normalized in our culture that - and this is the most insidious factor in that normalization - it has been rendered invisible to politics in Europe. Even mentioning it has become the first taboo of the culture.

We live in what is truly a moral world turned upside down, and the greatest irony may be that a broad consensus exists, in a highly rights-aware political establishment, in favor of one of the gravest and most egregious abuses of human rights that human society has ever tolerated. Didn't Europeans think they could never and must never kill again on an industrial scale? What a cruel deceit, then, that has led us to this mass killing of children, for a theoretical greater good, which in this case is simply the wish not to be bound by a pregnancy unless it is fully and freely chosen and which, outside of that parameter, is declared, by fiat, to be null and void.

h/t Jill Stanek

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bothered ....

This week, the pro-life group of my parish met with the priest to discuss what we will do this coming year. The direction has been set by the priest, and I am glad to know that he is on board with the pro-life movement and wishes to advance life issues in the parish. But something keeps bothering me.

During the meeting, it was stated by several people that we cannot use the term "pro-life" for our activities because it will scare people off. Apparently, the term has been loaded negatively by those who are "too radical". I am left wondering who are they referring to? Because I am not aware of any really radical pro-life people here, certainly not any that I would say got in my face over this issue.

Why do we hedge around the abortion issue all the time? the upshot of the meeting is that we need to educate those in the parish who are on the periphery, those who don't have much information on life issues, and carefully bring them into more knowledge without turning them off. All well and good: I understand the need to give people information, and when they have little or none to begin with, this has to be done in a wise way.

But something bothers me. Haven't we been doing this all these past 40 years? Carefully trying to convince people of the rightness of the pro-life position and trying to get them to see the sanctity of life in ways that won't offend them? And yet where are we? Most Christians don't have the abortion issue on their radar. And when confronted with it, the line comes that we need to be pro-life in our approach, not anti-abortion. It is better to be positive, not negative. People will not be attracted to something negative; they need to be enticed by an overall pro-life approach to all people and then they will be convinced of the necessity of abolishing abortion.

It just doesn't make sense. This has been our approach for 40 years and we are no further ahead than we were in 1969. As a matter of fact, the number of abortions has greatly increased, so we haven't made headway.

I think we have made peace with death. And efforts such as those of our pro-life group are well-intentioned, but futile. Because we have already made peace with the status quo.

This is Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV and a couple of his videos have been making the rounds on the internet lately. I get them forwarded to me by Catholic friends who think he is terrific; but I have never been able to share their enthusiasm. On the one hand, that hair of his really does look like a "rug", something from the 80's. But it is his finger-wagging that really makes me click away.

Just as Randall Terry may speak truth about the abortion issue, his tactics make other pro-lifers cringe. I find Michael Voris to be the same; I do not want to be associated with him, or acknowledge him as a fellow Catholic - it is just too embarrassing.

As Damian Thompson, religion editor of The Telegraph blogs, put it so well:

Such mean-spirited glee is, of course, deplorable. So let me make one thing absolutely clear. I’ve posted this video only to show what can happen when conservative Catholic commentators lose their sense of charity. Yes indeedy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

You can't trust the mainstream media

Certainly the case with all the anti-Israeli sentiment that spreads across newspapers and television reports, and is rectified by sites such as
Just Journalism.

And in the very recent case of three women challenging Ireland's abortion laws by taking their cases to the court of the European Union, the reports on mainstream media are extremely misleading. But that is exactly what they want - to mislead the public.

Ireland's abortion ban violated "woman's rights"

The headline is designed to make you think that Ireland lost the case in the court. But this is not so. The actual ruling claimed that, in the case of one woman who was in remission from cancer, Ireland failed to provide her with an alternative to her pregnancy. This was the way the story was reported in the New York Times as well, highlighting the case that ruled against Ireland and conveniently putting the other two cases further down in the story.

What actually happened was that this was a huge victory for pro-life Ireland.

Yesterday worldwide pro-abortion ideologues were dealt two huge blows. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that: 1) the European Convention on Human Rights does not contain a right to abortion; and 2) the 47 European countries bound by that convention have the right to sovereignly determine their own abortion laws. -

This case has been called Ireland's Roe v Wade; and Ireland has held strong to its pro-life stand on abortion. Let us hope that they will continue to do so in the face of mounting opposition to any country that will not make abortion legal.
Women's groups from North America and in Europe are pushing everywhere to make abortion legal throughout the entire world. They are not content with having abortion legal for themselves; they feel it is their duty to push it on women in other countries as well.

I hope to see a mighty push-back because these women do not speak for the majority of women in the world. They do happen to be the most well-funded and the most-vocal however.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Latest on Linda Gibbons

For the latest news on Linda Gibbons, check here

Free Linda

Monday, December 13, 2010

When Babies Become Commodities

The pro-life movement has warned of this for a long time: it is part of the "slippery slope" from accepting abortion, to regarding life as cheap and babies as products instead of the people they really are.

Assembling the Global Baby

In a hospital room on the Greek island of Crete with views of a sapphire sea lapping at ancient fortress walls, a Bulgarian woman plans to deliver a baby whose biological mother is an anonymous European egg donor, whose father is Italian, and whose birth is being orchestrated from Los Angeles....
The man bringing together this disparate group is Rudy Rupak, chief executive of LLC, a California company that searches the globe to find the components for its business line. The business, in this case, is creating babies.

Price ranges from $32.000 to $200,000. A tempting proposition to a woman who lives in poverty, and I have heard that this appeals to Romanians who are one of the poorest peoples in Europe. It is also becoming a practice in India, and there have been several cases written about recently of women in Britain being surrogates.

h/t Jill Stanek

And a recent quote from Celine Dion who had twins conceived by IVF, but was originally supposed to have triplets.

One little baby decided to step back to help the other two survive. The doctors said to me if there’s something wrong, natures takes it’s course. “I still think of the one who stepped back. I’m sure every woman has the feeling about -the little one that’s not there.

"stepped back"? another sterile way to say "died", I suppose.

h/t ProWomanProLife

For a good read on the Catholic teaching on conception and why IVF and surrogacy would be wrong, check this link:

Accepting Abundance

Friday, December 10, 2010

No Moral Compass

I heard a story about students at a university (unnamed to protect those involved) who were caught cheating on a test. The new way to cheat? take a photo of the test with your i-phone and send it to your friend who will be sitting the test in the next session.

The students (yes, more than one) who were caught doing this were given two choices: get zero on the test or appear before the Senate committee, which would end in expulsion from the university. All students caught accepted the zero offer.

In a society that has seen the decline of church attendance, the obliteration of conscience is to be expected. I will venture to guess that these students have probably never been inside a church or synagogue or received any instruction from their religious elders or their parents on right and wrong. Yes, that is a blanket statement, but I have a gut feeling that this is the case.

The complete lack of a moral compass in today's students reveals the complete lack of teaching on the part of their parents and those in authority. Kids raised with some moral restrictions will at least know when they are doing something wrong. These kids, when caught, did not think they had done anything immoral; they were merely upset at being caught.

For those who wish to remove all trace of religion from the public square, be forewarned that this is what you can expect and it will get worse. Without the influence of religious morality, people will simply do whatever they can get away with. And cheating on a university test will be small potatoes, compared to what they will do when given positions of power and influence in society.

A worthwhile video to watch, if you have about 15 minutes.