Pro-Life as a Human Right

Simply saying “No” to abortion is not enough, in fact that advocacy is incomplete and can even hinder the promotion of human rights as a whole.  Being pro-life continues even as far as making sure there are good schools and even good jobs with healthy working conditions to lessen the pressure on families.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote extensively about natural law which continues to influence the philosophy of human rights even today.

Our Catholic Identity One of the primary undertakings of the Catholic Church is the promotion of human rights. We do this through our Catholic Charities, Propagation of the Faith(coordination and promotion of Catholic missions), Caritas’ services for the poor, etc. The Catholic Church educates more people than any other institution in the world and is at the forefront of providing health services to the sick. Our advocacy for human rights in an inseparable part of our identity as Catholics.

Rights vs. Civil Liberties “Rights” are fundamental conditions that innately belong to each person by merit of our participation in nature. It is possible to suppress  human rights, but suppression is a violation of nature and has no bearing on the rights we are entitled to as people. Sometimes we describe conditions that belong to each person because of social contract. Those are “civil liberties” and not necessarily “rights.”

The March for Life attracts several hundred thousand participants every January in Washington DC. The crowd is multicultural and increasingly younger, primarily fueled by a network of pro-life Catholics.

Life as a Human Right: The first human right is the right to life. Without full  protection for this, the rights to education and labor are seriously compromised. It is so fundamental that it includes protection for the most vulnerable among us(embryos, those sentenced to death, the ill, and elderly). Being truly pro-life continues even as far as making sure there are good schools and even good jobs with healthy working conditions to lessen the pressure on families.

What about social stigma? In a word, it is wrong. Acting or speaking in a way that may embarrass a mom or a woman post-abortion gravely hinders the efficacy and public opinion of the pro-life movement. We have a responsibility to do our best to speak charitably and be acutely aware of how sensitive the circumstances are for  the women we are advocating for.

But there are many reasons why moms may feel pressured to undergo the procedure!  That is why being pro-life continues well past advocacy for pregnant moms. Some of the driving forces of unplanned pregnancies include poverty and lack of access to a good education.

The advocacy reaches far… Are there quality schools in my neighborhood? Are there available jobs with healthy working conditions? Are workers being paid a just wage? Note that a majority of children with Down Syndrome do not make it to term by parental choice. Are there health care options available to less fortunate families?

Human Rights and advocacy: it’s inseparable from our identity as Catholics.

A.M.D.G.

St. Albert “The Great”

The Great is an exceptional title given very sparingly and only by tradition in the Catholic Church. It is unofficial in a sense that there is no special canonization process to receive this title; however, although it stems from a nickname given by scholars or overtime by popular use, the Vatican has been known to reference it in official documents which in a sense makes it official. Cardinal Angelo Sodano reference John Paul the Great in a Vatican document which acts like an endorsement of the title.

S. Albertus Magnus (1193-1280)

Today is the feast day of St. Albert the Great, a doctor of the Church. Albert was born in present day Germany sometime around 1193 A.D. He was a Dominican priest who was curious about philosophy, world religions, and the physical sciences. St. Albert engaged Islamic scholars in academic critiques and was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. In a spirit of humility, he refused to ride on the horse he was entitled to as Bishop of Regensburg.

A.M.D.G.

Aside

In the strict sense of the word “vocation”, God summons some with the duty of serving in politics. It’s an ugly, atrocious, exhaustive path filled with vipers, but that is because there is so much that can be done with that skill to serve the greater good and promote human rights. Vatican Council II confirmed that the Church does need some politicians – they are a critical voice in this world that lacks charity, and must do so without regard to self. Contrary to popular belief, not all politicians are corrupt. In fact, many are there to be warriors for God and to do so to complete exhaustion for the sake of charity without regard to self.

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Here is a passage from Gaudium et Spes, a document of Vatican Council II

All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation in the political community…Great care must be taken about civic and political formation, which is of the utmost necessity today for the population as a whole, and especially for youth, so that all citizens can play their part in the life of the political community. Those who are suited or can become suited should prepare themselves for the difficult, but at the same time, the very noble art of politics,(8) and should seek to practice this art without regard for their own interests or for material advantages. With integrity and wisdom, they must take action against any form of injustice and tyranny, against arbitrary domination by an individual or a political party and any intolerance. They should dedicate themselves to the service of all with sincerity and fairness, indeed, with the charity and fortitude demanded by political life.

DC Professor on Leave after Signing Pro-Traditional Marriage Petition

Last month, Britain’s online Pink News reported on Archbishop Tomasi’s speech to the United Nations in Geneva that addressed a growing trend of discrimination against those who oppose gay marriage. This opposition to free speech and religious freedom became more than theoretical in the heart of America’s capital last week after a professor was removed from her position.

Headshot of Professor McCaskill who was placed on leave after signing a petition supporting pro-traditional marriage.

Gallaudet University placed Professor Angela McCaskill on leave after she signed a pro-traditional marriage petition at her church concerning a vote that will take place in Maryland next month. University officials asked her to apologize, and when she refused, she was placed on leave. A spokesman said that members of the community were concerned about how the expression of her views may affect her performance in the classroom (Washington Post).

 

Welcome to the Year of Faith

The obelisk dominated by a cross represents a time of early Christianity when the Roman Empire was the leading power in civilization. Now, we are in very different times and the Church responds to that with charitable guidance and a renewed celebration of the same faith.

Welcome to the Year of Faith! Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, a council that sought to respond to the modern world by demonstrating that the faith and the Word of God is for every human.

The obelisk dominated by a cross in front of the Cathedral Giovanni Laterano, the most important location in the Catholic Church because it is the Pope’s Cathedral, represents a time of early Christianity when the Roman Empire was the leading power in civilization. Now, we are in very different times and the Church responds to that with charitable guidance and a renewed celebration of the same faith

The Church in the modern world is instructed to take careful care of its flock, with particular care for everyone as an individual. The pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes, Latin for Joy and Hope, reminds us of the importance of our exhaustive duties of charity as Christians and lays out our duties. Here are some of the document’s highlights:

Science is good Remember that the Catholic Church, despite some scars in the scientific community, developed the higher education system and even the Big Bang Theory. “Man judges rightly that by his intellect he surpasses the material universe, for he shares in the light of the divine mind.” The Church teaches that legitimate science is done in accord with nature and can be used to advance society for the comfort of man, and not for selfish intentions. Our inclinations towards advancement indicate that we are always looking for a higher truth, which ultimately leads us to God.

Good economic policies are tempered by a desire to appreciate human dignity The Church recognizes that we’re at a point of development in the world that history has never seen before. In complimenting the complexity of the human mind, the Church advocates the principle of subsidiarity which means that decisions should be made at the most local level they can competently be decided at. Furthermore, Gaudium et Spes lauds economic freedom, but warns there is a responsibility to ensure growth is done responsibility and with the principle of charity.

Christian charity is not “superfluous” Charity is not a word that merely describes an action or an organization. It literally means “love.” Christians are called to serve others, and to freely give to those in need; however, we are not called to give just our pocket change. We are actually supposed to give in sacrifice which in turn is a beautiful way of taking a small share in Christ’s victory over the poverty of death.

Politics is noble The Church is “at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.” The Church and the State are separate, but that does not mean the Church is absent from advocacy. In fact, the document calls politics a “noble art” in which competent individuals should use their political skills to advocate with charity and “without regard for their own interests”

A.M.D.G.

60th Annual Red Mass for the US Supreme Court

Cardinal Wuerl can be seen on stage at the Red Mass brunch, sponsored by the John Carroll Society, congratulating this year’s recipients of various justice themed awards.

On the eve of the new Supreme Court session, Cardinal Wuerl warmly hosted 1,500 guests at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, including six of the nine Supreme Court Justices. Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Breyer, and Obama appointee Justice Elena Kagan who all voted in favor of the health care ruling were among the congregation. Other guests included many Ambassadors, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and Military Archdiocese Archbishop Timothy Broglio who delivered the homily.

The theme centered on our responsibility to seek justice. In the homily, Archbishop Broglio very eloquently warned that the undoing of morality and institutions which support society is dangerous,

“I am reminded of my first year as a seminarian in Rome. An important 19th Century Justice Department building was closed because it was unsafe. It seemed to be sinking into the ground. Yet the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the ruins of the Roman Forum were all still standing and could be visited. It was a good reminder that not everything contemporary is good and that stable foundations are essential. Our society must also rest on stable, clear foundations. Otherwise, we run the risk of sinking into the mire of one popular sound byte after another!”

After Mass, Cardinal Wuerl and Monsignor Vaghi(Chaplain of the John Caroll Society) spoke to the guests about the mission of the New Evangelization. “It is a simple formula”, said Cardinal Wuerl. First it begins with our own internal conversion, then truly coming to the conviction that our beliefs are true, and finally sharing it with others. Wuerl shared a short story about a local college chaplain who evangelized by dramatically telling his young congregation, “I am appointing you all Apostles! Go home today and next Sunday your assignment is to bring someone back with you.” Slowly, it worked. And the congregation has grown from less than 50 students to over 300. This formula is simple, but sharing the faith is the profound responsibility of each Christian. The Good News is too good to be kept a secret.

A.M.D.G.

 

James the Just on Passions and Conflict

As a student of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, St. James’ epistle in the 2nd reading at Mass holds a deep meaning and could even serve as the preface to every technical book ever written on the topic. James the Just, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, inspired people with perfect words of charity. According to tradition, he even prayed for his murderers as they were stoning him to death. When we hear about the constant turmoil in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, the words of St. James give consolation and advice as well as a reminder to pray for peace. There is no need for an analysis, I am simply going to re-post the 2nd reading from the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

This 12th century Chiesa di San Giacamo in Bellagio, Italy appears to depict the scene where St. James the Just was bludgeoned to death in the mosaic above the altar.

A reading from the Letter of St. James 

Beloved:

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars
and where do the conflicts among you come from?
Is it not from your passions
that make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess.
You kill and envy but you cannot obtain;
you fight and wage war.
You do not possess because you do not ask.
You ask but do not receive,
because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

The word of the Lord

A.M.D.G.