Let there be Light: Life Begins at Conception


An amazing video of the moment a human sperm meets a human egg. In a brilliant flash of light, suddenly a distinct member of the human race exists, who did not exist milliseconds before…..

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(British) NHS administers contraceptive implants to girls as young as 10

The British National Health Service can be observed as a beacon for what we might have to expect in future days under our own socialized health system here in the United States.

According to this article in the UK paper, The Telegraph, “in the last 5 years, almost 10,000 slow-acting implants have been placed in girls below the age of consent…. Implants were given to 56 girls aged 12 or younger, with 281 cases involving girls of 13, the figures show. More than 3,000 cases involved girls of 14, with 6,000 implants given to 15-year-olds, disclosures from 61 of 160 NHS trusts show.”

Girls as young as 10 have received contraceptive implants in the UK, “despite the fact the implants have never been tested on under-18s.”

This practice is justified, at least in part, by suggesting that the cases involving exceedingly young girls are for those who are particularly vulnerable — due to mental impairment, for example — or at risk for sexual exploitation.

But how does a contraceptive implant reduce the risk of sexual exploitation? It seems that rather than taking steps to safeguard against the exploitation of girls, what really matters to the NHS is avoiding the consequences of the exploitation, which has the potential for actually exacerbating the exploitation problem itself.

Walk for Life West Coast 2015

Good morning! Got up at 6:00 am. Mass at 7:00. Aboard bus at 8:00 or so. There’s a little bit of fog blanketing the ground this morning. A parishioner made homemade doughnuts for everyone on the buses for breakfast. I’m sitting next to two-year-old daughter for this leg; she got covered in sugar and cinnamon (from doughnut), but luckily, got most of it brushed off her.

Lots of good friends and loved ones aboard this bus!

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11:00am: Crossing Bay Bridge

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Noon: Civic Center Plaza is beginning to fill up!

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1:00pm: Waiting for Walk to start.

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1:30pm: Walk starts.

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3:00pm: at Ferry Terminal

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Wow, there might have been two dozen “counter-demonstrators” out along the route. The effort to mobilize the pro-aborts was reeeeaaaallllllly successful. One fellow creatively making use of the middle finger, some tired signs and a couple of angry megaphonists. That about sums up them up.

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Abortion is murder. One of the counter-demonstrators (sadly, I didn’t get a picture) held a sign that said “Kill all babies / save the world.” That’s someone who knows what abortion is, and glories in its legality. If only “pro-choice” leaders were so honest.

Headed back on the bus. A great day. We are upon a slow, inexorable march to end this holocaust.

Walk for Life West Coast 2015 is Tomorrow!

WFL_original-logoThis is a great event that needs your support. Please pray for an end to abortion tomorrow, and please also consider attending the Walk if you can get to San Francisco. A lot of nearby parishes charter buses to carry down a load of people, and there are always last minute cancellations. Call you parish and see what they’re doing!

Walk for Life West Coast 2015…..

…..is less than 2 weeks from now, on Saturday, January 24. Visit the Walk for Life West Coast websiteWFL_original-logo for information on the schedule, events, and ways to get involved.

Call your local parish and find out what they’re doing. Our *small* parish has a very able team of volunteers who organize the trip. This year, our parish is chartering *four* motor coaches to provide transportation to San Francisco. I just got word a day or so ago that we will have a couple of special guests — not from our parish — joining us for the Walk.

Walk for Life is now in its 11th year, and began with fewer than 10,000 participants. Our family first participated in 2011 (I think), once we returned to Northern California from Chicago, and we’ve made this an annual tradition ever since. Each year, attendance grows substantially. Last year, there were easily 50,000 people on the Walk, but (expert people counter that I am) I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual number exceeded 60,000, which is pretty amazing, considering that it’s totally “grass roots” that gets the thing going.

You may get “heckled” while walking down Market Street. Last year, there were rumors that a “counter-demonstration” would be present, but at least from what I saw, the number of “counter-demonstrators” barely tipped double digits in terms of numbers. Usually there are a handful of angry, pierced, tattooed, and otherwise addled folks holding offensive signs and shouting terrible things.

Nevertheless: take your children. Do you want your kids to be pro-life? Nothing will open their eyes more to the misery of “choice” than being a part of something where their friends, family and pastors peacefully pray together for an end to the injustice and cruelty of abortion, while a handful of people (the majority of whom are middle-aged men) hurl slurs from the sidewalk. Walk for Life answers the assumption that everyone is “okay” with abortion.

Abortion is evil. Kids are keen observers. They’ll quickly understand — and never forget — the kind of person who defends abortion on the streets of San Francisco. Plenty of people (especially in the media and politics) do a good job slapping lipstick on the pig of abortion rights. Walk for Life will give your kids a good whiff of the true “smell of the sheep” of pro-aborts. Even if Planned Parenthood stencils flowers into its corporate masthead, your kids will forever make the connection that Big Death fears.

The SFPD officers (who as individuals they may not all be in agreement with the cause, although I suspect some, many, most do agree with us), always act professionally and courteously and do a lot to make the walkers feel welcome and safe. There are plenty of officers keeping watch along the entire route.

Meanwhile, you and your family will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 50,000 members of the Church Militant (united with an untold company of the Church Triumphant) in an entirely peaceful assembly, praying the rosary, singing hymns, and recognizing that yes, even hecklers are blessed with human dignity by Almighty God, and need prayer.

I hope that you will prayerfully consider participating this year, especially if you have never done so before.

Election Day Approaches: Help for the Pro-Life Voter

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 2.33.55 PMLast night, I received a call from someone taking a poll for the upcoming election. I couldn’t answer who I was going to vote for, even though I know a few of the candidates who won’t be receiving my vote.

I vote my conscience, which means that I don’t vote for candidates who are not fully pro-life, no matter the other “good things” about the candidate, and if a race is composed of two pro-choice candidates, I frequently abstain (or write in) from voting in that contest.

Here in California, a voter interested in learning which candidates are pro-life can visit the California Pro-Life Council’s 2014 General Election Voter Guide (the state chapter of National Right to Life; you can look for your state’s chapter by going here). The guide indicates the respective candidate’s position on elective abortion, parental notification, and euthanasia. It doesn’t answer every question, but it’s a good start.

Some Honesty regarding the new Archbishop of Chicago

Ok, breathe. Recall that St. Pope John Paul the Great gave red hats to Mahony and Law. Episcopal appointments are not infallible.

cupichBishop Blase Cupich (Diocese of Spokane, Washington) will become the next Archbishop of Chicago in November.

The Archdiocese is very near and dear to my heart — it is our “home diocese”; we were received into the Church by Francis Cardinal George at the Easter Vigil in 2000.

As a body composed of 1.2 billion living members, we pray and work under a really big tent. For the most part, I believe that it is our own fallen nature (and those little cutting whispers in our ears) that causes us to tear down others in our tent who we think are “doing it wrong”.

We can (and should) agree that there are multiple ways to do the same thing, and subsidiarity suggests that the Church empowers us to look at our individual circumstances and act prudently.

But some things are non-negotiable. The acceptance of abortion by human society is a murderous famine, and failing to defend the rights and dignity of the unborn is unacceptable Catholic practice. That’s not my opinion, but rather directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them. (para. 2269).

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Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. (para. 2272).

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Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being(para. 2274).

So, how does this relate to Chicago’s new Archbishop? Visit Shea’s blog and search “Cupich” (and there are other sources of the same information). In Spokane, His Excellency essentially put a stop to official diocesan participation in sidewalk vigils, 40 Days for Life, etc. He made it clear he did not wish to see his priests or seminarians at such things. The question was raised at his initial conference with the Chicago press last Saturday (beginning around 13:15):

Why is His Excellency so upset?!? Without a doubt, Jesus Christ stands outside the abortion clinics to pray too. A “seamless garment” approach can work so long as it does not treat opposition to abortion as one of the “seams”.

Your Excellency, you told us that you want to be a Pastor to the good people of Chicagoland, I earnestly ask you: will you please be a Pastor to the unborn too? Heaven cries out for justice and the little ones need YOU.

Supporting Secular Charities and the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Right now, the Internet is atwitter over the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”. I’ve enjoyed the video clips posted by a few friends in which they “take the challenge” (get a bucket of ice water over the head) and then call out three other friends to follow suit.

Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: slgckgc

Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: slgckgc

It’s a digital-viral-multi-level-pyramid-charity-marketing-scheme, and in a way, it’s brilliant. A bucket of ice water is cheap and (apart from here in California) plentiful, it can’t harm anyone, but it’s still fun to watch people get soaked. It’s a virtual “dunking booth” experience that everyone can “feel good about” because it’s harmless, and “for a good cause”. 

And, all of this is true, except that while we are “raising awareness” for a particular concern that needs more medical funding, we are also turning a blind eye to the problems with many of our secular charitable organizations. Despite our good intentions, and no matter how laudable the cause is, we cannot fall into consequentialism by supporting organizations that ultimately fail to respect the dignity of all human life. 

The moral dilemma is that many of these organizations support research involving embryonic stem cells. This is bad because (a) embryonic stem cells come from embryosi.e., individual members of the human race whose lives are extinguished in the name of (or secondary to) scientific research, (b) embryonic stem cells have yet to deliver on any promise (that a treatment or cure will come about from them) and (c) even if (when) such a treatment or cure is discovered from research on human embryos, it would not be licit to benefit from such treatment or cure.

Strychnos nuxvomica, a poisonous tree. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: Lalithamba

Strychnos nuxvomica, a poisonous tree. Source: Wikimedia Commons; Author: Lalithamba

This is not mere “remote possibility”, but rather through our funding and support, the research that results (to use a legal term) is the “fruit of the poisonous tree”: something that would not exist but for the illicit means that brought it about. 

In the Instruction Dignitas Personaethe CDF introduces the concept: “The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great ‘yes’ to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today’s world.” Regarding the use of embryos for creation of cell lines, the Church states:

The obtaining of stem cells from a living human embryo… invariably causes the death of the embryo and is consequently gravely illicit: “research, in such cases, irrespective of efficacious therapeutic results, is not truly at the service of humanity. In fact, this research advances through the suppression of human lives that are equal in dignity to the lives of other human individuals and to the lives of the researchers themselves. History itself has condemned such a science in the past and will condemn it in the future, not only because it lacks the light of God but also because it lacks humanity”.

The use of embryonic stem cells or differentiated cells derived from them – even when these are provided by other researchers through the destruction of embryos or when such cells are commercially available – presents serious problems from the standpoint of cooperation in evil and scandal.

It isn’t easy being the one who “breaks the chain” and declines to take part in something that, by initial appearances, seems a worthy cause. But as Catholics, we should be aware of many of the pitfalls of the secular world, including climbing on the bandwagon no matter how good the music. In the case of the ALS Association, participation (not the ice bucket part, but the donation to ALS Association) conflicts with Catholic teaching: not only does the ALS fund research on embryonic stem cells, but it also advocates for such funding and research. 

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has offered an alternate approach: participate in the ice bucket challenge, but make the monetary donation to a group other than (in this case) the ALS Association: the Archdiocese suggests donating to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. I’m all for this, and should I be “challenged”, my video will carry the message that the JPII Institute will receive my donation, and in “challenging” three more friends, I’m asking them to do the same. 

Ignorance (the saying goes) is bliss. However, making a monetary contribution is, in a way, something akin to voting: we empower organizations and individuals that we support financially, and we ratify their messages and goals. If you are the type of voter who doesn’t choose candidates and initiatives based upon soundbites and banners, then you shouldn’t be that type of giver either. The American Life League provides a handy reference to help you navigate the waters, whether warm or iced and in a bucket. And, just to give you an idea of how serious this is, here’s just a sample of the organizations (widely viewed as worthy causes) that carry warnings:

ALS Association
Alzheimer’s Association
American Cancer Society
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
American Red Cross
Live Strong
March of Dimes
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
UNICEF

While the aims (curing disease, ending suffering) of these organizations are laudable, the means by which they would achieve their aims are not. Caution: tread lightly, and avoid hopping on the bandwagon until you know where your money (and time) is going. 

Because eating poisonous fruit has consequences, for body and soul. 

Woe to those who tug at guilt with cords of perversity, and at sin as if with cart ropes!

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! (Isaiah 5:18, 20).

But thanks for the handy list of entities and organizations that are worthy of donations and support; I thought I’d never have reason to link to your website!