Friday, October 22, 2004

Faith and Patriotism

Outstanding NYT op-ed from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver.

The first part speaks to concerns from a recent commentor:

That saying comes to mind as the election approaches and I hear more lectures about how Roman Catholics must not "impose their beliefs on society" or warnings about the need for "the separation of church and state." These are two of the emptiest slogans in current American politics, intended to discourage serious debate. No one in mainstream American politics wants a theocracy. Nor does anyone doubt the importance of morality in public life. Therefore, we should recognize these slogans for what they are: frequently dishonest and ultimately dangerous sound bites.

Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we "ought" to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody's ought becomes a "must" for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it's how pluralism works.

Later the Archbishops turns the tables:

People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms about imposing their views on society. Often working against popular opinion, they have tried to block any effort to change permissive abortion laws since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That's fair. That's their right. But why should the rules of engagement be different for citizens who oppose those laws?

Good question, don't you think?

He goes on to remind us all that opposition to abortion is not just a Catholic belief. (In fact, for some pro-lifers it is not.)

Catholics have an obligation to work for the common good and the dignity of every person. We see abortion as a matter of civil rights and human dignity, not simply as a matter of religious teaching. We are doubly unfaithful - both to our religious convictions and to our democratic responsibilities - if we fail to support the right to life of the unborn child. Our duties to social justice by no means end there. But they do always begin there, because the right to life is foundational.

For Catholics to take a "pro-choice" view toward abortion contradicts our identity and makes us complicit in how the choice plays out. The "choice" in abortion always involves the choice to end the life of an unborn human being. For anyone who sees this fact clearly, neutrality, silence or private disapproval are not options. They are evils almost as grave as abortion itself. If religious believers do not advance their convictions about public morality in public debate, they are demonstrating not tolerance but cowardice.

Archbishop Chaput is a fine shepard who reaches beyond his own flock to teach and remind so many Roman Catholics in America.

St. Michael, protect him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Christian and one that was face with a VERY difficult choice, I must state our case.

Our daughter's sonogram revealed structures called bilateral choroid plexus cysts. These reside in babies brains and sometimes go away. Sometimes they don't. These are fluid filled sacs that hinder the development of the brain of the fetus. This condition is indicative to a chromosomal abnormality Trisome 18. She also had other birth defects such as her solar plexus that was concave instead of convex. Her tiny heart was beating slower than normal because it was literally pounding against her ribs.

Is our Lord so callous as to make our little girl suffer?

Trisome 18 also known as Edwards Syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality that is about one tenth as common as Trisome 21 (Down's Syndrome). Edwards has a .76% survival rate and a birth almost certainly would be stillborn or die shortly thereafter.

Life for a child with Edwards is short and painful, often not living past a few short months and the quality of life is such that its condemning the child to suffer for its short existance.

To illustrate abortion in such a 2-dimensional manner indicates a lack of information on this horrible abnormality. To say an abortion is and abortion is an abortion is clearly a narrow view. That would be like saying all voters are the same or all people have the opinions.

So I ask you esteemed, clergyman of catholisism...

Is abortion all the same? There are those precious unwanted babies that tragically are aborted. But there are those such as my very much wanted and love daughter that was aborted to avert a very short life of pain and misery with not even the simple ability to comprehend or understand how loved she was.

I love my daughter, we celebrate her birthday to honor her life in the womb and understand her soul's innocence. My wife's and my own are in question, no doubt, by your doctrine. It seems a one size fits all ruling on abortion is what is prevailing here.

Ask a parent if they can withhold mercy from their child knowing they could stop the pain. Ask a parent to condemn their own child to a very short life of pain.

Then ask a parent capable of doing such a thing if he feels loss.

Yes, I do and I still have my peace of mind and more than that I know I did the right thing.

The Lord acts through us on occasions, does he not? Can you so swiftly reject the notion that He acted through my wife and I to grant my daughter mercy?

What kind of father can live with doing nothing to spare his daughter from a life of pain?

9:52 AM  
Blogger David said...


I am sorry for your loss. My heart and prayers go out to you. I would not wish such pain on you or your family.

The American bishops have addressed this situation you bring forth by focusing on the case of anencephaly.

"The fact that the life of a child suffering from anencephaly will probably be brief cannot excuse directly causing death before "viability" or gravely endangering the child's life after "viability" as a result of the complications of prematurity."

Source: U.S. Bishops, "Moral Principles Concerning Infants with Anencephaly" (1996); see document, with commentary, at at

There are stories of women who carry anencephaltic children to term knowing the lives of these little ones will be brief. They are not easy decisions, but in my heart and in mu mind they seem to be thr right decisions.

God bless and keep you and yours.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you for your kind words. I respect that we have a difference in beliefs on this subject. I'm not an advocate of abortion by any means, but recognize that in this particular case it was medically necessary. As for viability, from the start at ferilization it was not. Trisomys are a collection of chromosomal abnormailties that are cause by an error that happens with the first cellular division occurs.

At that early state of mitosis before the cell first divides, the error occurs. Our chromosomes are grouped into "base pairs." We have 23 base pairs as humans. What happens is at the time of cellular division is that one half of the divided cell separates with both halves of one or multiple base pairs. Which leaves the remaining half with some pairs missing. So the error is made at that point and gets copied every single time the cell divides. We give the number after Trisomy to indicate which chromosome has been affected. I have met many that are afflicted with Trisome 21. They are wonderful people, with such trusting childlike innocence. They remind me of the innocence of humanity before we left Eden.

Trisome 18 is not viable: A mind capable of experiencing love we not to be found in our child. Nor was a physical condition resembling anything less than pure torture. Anencephaly is a markedly different condition, the only thing it has in common with Trisomy 18 is the presence of fluid in the brain.

Again, I do not try to sway any opinion here.

Every baby is different, every case of Trisomy 18 is different, every abortion is different.

You just cannot slap a label on it and call it something generic.

But as I said, thank you for your kind words.

God be with you.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can easily see your anguish in not wanting your child to suffer. But I wonder if it's not you who does not want to suffer with and for your child. If this were a born child, who for example had to days to live after being delivered, would you have the child killed or hold him/her tight and suffer with them until their natural death. It seems, because we cannot see and feel our unborn loved ones, we think somehow it will just go away if we take their life. But keep in mind that all abortions create pain on the child, and then death. If you already know what your child suffers from, then the child must be approximately 2 months (although i presume more since you said it was a girl, detected at 4 months). Therefore, this child has all its nervous system fully developed as any born baby. An abortion, depending on the procedure, would range from serious to unbearable pain on your child. It would literally be killing your child so as not to see your child live her short but meaningful life. Thisis not wanting to deal with feeling your loss so you eliminate your cross by taking their life. How do I know that this short difficult life of your child could be very meaningful? 1. All life is meaningful; look at the cross. 2. I knew someone who had an unborn child with the same disorder as your child. They prayed with and for their child in the womb for nine months. They then spent a most profound twenty-four hours with their child in the hospital, respecting and honoring that child, giving her baptism and communion...and most importantly, knowing that they were not a part of the destruction of this child but a loving parentwho let their child die naturally in their loving armsrather than by knife and more suffering. The child slept peacefully and departed peacefully in her mother's arms (...Just the same as if your 5 year old child fell ill and became terminal. Why is it any different in the womb, a child who feelsis a child, whether in the womb or not. Ask oneself, would you kill a 5 year old who is suffering and terminal or would you hold them tightto the end?) Doesn't your baby deserve to be held with love when it dies? Why would you want it to suffer more and by a gruesome death "alone"? This is why I say perhaps it is you who are afraid to suffer. I recognize that it is an emotional gruelling act of sacrifice but it is our moral obligation and desrving of your child. And as I said the family I knew chose this and was blessed with a profound day and a peaceful death of their child. They themselves had peace knowing that they did every loving thing that they could do. A child is not something we can dispose of because the suffering is to much for us to bear. You will only land with more suffering. 2. And just as important, ...never make life and death decisions based on doctor information...There was another family who had the same prognosis of their child and they carried to term and a miracle happened...the baby came out okay...very rare I admit, but none-the-less it shows you who is incharge of making and ending life-God. If you truly want to love your child, then have compassion, which in Latin means to "suffer with".
I will be praying for you and your child very much.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Bereaved said...

This is for Kayleigh.

First let me introduce myself. I am that mother who made the decision to terminate my pregnancy due to Trisomy 18. The man who has been replying is my husband. No MAN knows the anguish of a mothers pain to make a decision such as this. How can he, for he has never been pregnant. Therefore, no MAN can judge me no matter how high in stature he is. It is between the Father God and I. The pain never ends. It is a very different pain for you. My husband can identify with that. I had my little girl inside me for 6 months. I felt every essence of her. I felt her soul. Why should we let our children suffer no more than we already have dead or alive? Not every death is the same, you should know that. How can we be so sure that they are not suffering and in pain unless we are them? It is in every fiber of a mothers being to protect her child from pain. I felt I was doing so. God made us that way. There is one very important scripture that we tend to forget, that most men tend to forget. "Judge ye before you judge others." and I may not have the wording just right but, "He who does not commit sin may cast the first stone." Your work is over for 9months once the sperm meets the egg. You stand outside the womans work the womans world. It is up to the art of our Father whether our not the fetus lives or dies before it even enters the womb. Would Jesus have judged so? Is is not your job to carry his attributes? Only God knows my pain not you.

So I leave you with this, unless you are a pregnant man or our Father God himself then do please judge/discriminate and condemn me, if you are not then I feel you have no business doing so.

I know it is your job to believe what you believe and even if some little part of you agreed with my decision after stating so you would not admit it b/c that would mean you are publicly going against everything you know. So we leave you in peace in knowing that we have shed our souls in this matter and will not state anymore on this issue.

May God Speed,
Still Bereaving

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kate Bush- "She's having a Baby"

2:18 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Bush is not a Christian and Jesus never would have started a war! Frankly, I am really sick off Bush saying "God" in every other scentance and we are to believe that he is Christian. Whatever happened to faith AND works showing how you believe? Just look at his works. There is no way he is a Christian! You are voting for the devil!

I think you will find this interesting. I checked the facts and sadly this is all true.

At the risk of sounding "fanatical", the Book Of Rev is really starting to scare me. I feel as if we are following the Devil. I refuse to follow to Devil because the Pope says to! Even though the Bible says I will be saved, I refuse to follow Satan.

By the way, when I was at the Vatican, I heard to pope speak out against the war. What a way to flip flop!

God, PLEASE Bless America because we are in the hands of Satan!

7:45 PM  

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