Thursday, December 29, 2005

30th anniversary of Persona Humana

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Catholic Church document, Persona Humana . This document was written in response to many questions about sexual ethics and proper human response to sexuality that arose during the sexual revolution. In the beginning of the document, we read, "The Church cannot remain indifferent to this confusion of minds and relaxation of morals." The Church was certainly not blind to the detrimental effects of the sexual revolution, which was not borne out of thin air, but fostered through the lobbying, propaganda and coercion of the birth control movement over several decades.

From section 3 of the document, we read:

The people of our time are more and more convinced that the human person's dignity and vocation demand that they should discover, by the light of their own intelligence, the values innate in their nature, that they should ceaselessly develop these values and realize them in their lives, in order to achieve an ever greater development.

This is commonly known as "conscience." Conscience is the moral authority within each person that acts based on the knowledge it has of the rightness or wrongness of a particular decision or circumstance. Many people have used "conscience" to mean any number of things, but most specifically an ignorant bliss which can easily excuse any evil or harmful action.

Dr. Donald DeMarco, a professor of philosophy in Canada, wrote a wonderful article addressing the impact of an ill-informed conscience on personal actions. It is worth quoting as we study the document that was the Church was blessed to receive 30 years ago today. This article, "Contraception and Being a Person," primarily addresses the way which contraceptive use violates the very meaning of personhood. His analysis of conscience is especially fitting.

This popular and commonly held view of conscience is false even to the meaning of the word "conscience". Etymologically, the word "conscience" (in Latin &It; con + scientia) literally means with knowledge. One's conscience cannot be formed in an intellectual void. Conscience, to be properly formed, requires knowledge…

Conscience is enfeebled when it is divorced from truth (or knowledge of what is true). At the same time, when conscience possesses truth, freedom is not compromised in the process. Conscience, truth, and freedom all thrive, so to speak, in each other's presence. One freely chooses to act in a certain way because his informed conscience tells him that it is the right way to act.

Many students have off several weeks at this time in order to take a break from studies, earn money for living the coming semester, travel and visiting with families. Why not take some time during these few weeks to organize a study group of this document? It is only a few pages in length (the small booklet edition I have is 26 pages long, however is now out of print. Please print it from the above link.) A fuller understanding of the logic, based on knowledge, behind the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexual ethics will help many to understand how to truly live human personhood.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holy Innocents

Today is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. The Gospel today is from Matthew 2:13-18, and he is quoting from the prophet Isaiah at the end of the reading:

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

This story is a modern day parallel as well. Children are slaughtered by the direction of selfish pressures of society, family or other responsibility, much to the dismay of mothers who suffer this great loss of her child who is "no more." However, this story gives hope to the mother of an aborted child that she will one day see her child again in heaven. Young, innocent and not even able to rationalize yet, these children are holy saints of the Catholic Church, the first martyrs who witnessed to Christ's life.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The popularization of euthanasia

The amount of Terri Schiavo-like euthanasia cases is growing. The media is giving spotlight attention and rave reviews to the "courageous" and "agonizing" decisions parents, doctors, courts, children, guardians, caregivers and others are making to murder these disabled or terminally ill individuals. Another case was brought to my attention today, and it is truly heartbreaking: the case of Dylan, a 5-year old child with severe Cerebral Palsy from a stroke that he suffered since before his birth. The article was careful not to mention his age, but only the amount of time he was "one this earth." The article was also careful to dehumanize him throughout his life simply based on his physical disabilities. The only point of humanizing the situation was highlighting the conflicting emotions of his parents while the decided to starve him to death, which the story claimed as "discontinuing life support."

Another point that should be made about the article is the way it highlights the "spiritual battle" that the parents suffered in deciding to starve their child. They even met with their pastor, Pastor Buddy, in order to discuss the situation, and Pastor Buddy proceeded to bless their lethal decision. This is eerily similar to the tactics used by the birth control movement as they sought to gain widespread acceptance of birth control use: they targeted religious leadership in all denominations seeking their divine blessing for their sin in order to better market it to the "Average Joe."

In the beginning of the birth control movement in the 1920s, Margaret Sanger and her allies sought with fervor the endorsement of birth control by religious leaders. And it worked, with the exception to the Catholic Church. In the mist of the raging battles over the legitimacy or illegitimacy of birth control, Pope Pius XI wrote for his landmark encyclical Casti Connubii. Sanger, of course went so far as to criticize Pope Pius under the public urgings of several major media outlets. In her response, she wrote:

The Pope made it perfectly plain that Catholics are expected to give up health, happiness and life itself while making every other conceivable sacrifice rather than to have dominion over nature's process of procreation. His letter denies any claims of poverty, sickness or other hindrances to proper child rearing that are valid reasons for the scientific limitation of offspring. As for the breeding of criminal, diseased, feeble-minded and insane classes, the Pope opposes every method of control except that of suggesting to these unfortunate people to please do not do it any more…

On must deplore the fact that Pope Puis should have chosen this tie of the world's distress from unemployment, poverty and economic maladjustment to advertise doctrines and advise conduct which can only tend to aggravate that distress…

Assume for the sake of argument that God does not want an increasing number of worshipers of the Catholic faith, does he want the throng to include an increasing number of feeble-minded, insane, criminal and diseased worshipers?

Sanger also condemned the use of periodic abstinence (under which NFP falls) as not being a method of birth control. She purports that because birth control is not abortion (chemical abortifacients were not developed at this time, 1931), then the Pope ought not compare the two. (It is also noteworthy to mention that Sanger was baptized and raised Catholic before she abandoned the Church to embark on her birth control crusade.)

She has quite some audacity to criticize the Pope! All movements of persistent sin, especially sexual sin and sins surrounding the value of human life strive to decriminalize the sins in the eyes of the Church and believers in order to spread their agenda. Most people are not wiling to persist in sin, but with the blessing of a church or religious leader, these sins create cataracts over the eyes of people, causing them to be blind to their own grievous faults.

And thus the euthanasia movement teamed up with the mainstream media continue to persist in winning the hearts and minds of the "Average Joe" to the euthanasia cause by highlighting renegade spiritual leaders and denominations.

The above quote from Margaret Sanger is taken from Blessed are the Barren by Robert Marshall and Charles Donovan. This book is available from Ignatius Press and was published in 1991. Please see page 136 for the quoted text. That entire chapter, chapter five, highlights "Planned Parenthood competing with religion."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The wrong way to minister to sexually confused youth

When I was in high school, I was completely scandalized when my parish priest along with the youth group director of the parish and several wealthy families became key players in the development of a gay advocacy group in the Charlotte, Time Out Youth. Their slogan says it all about them, "It's OK to be gay!" they purport.

I had always known that there were several gay persons at our parish, and I always knew that engaging in homosexual relations was not compatible with being Catholic. Within 3 or 4 years, a parish that would boast of standing room only on Sunday mornings became what resembled a ghost town. Most families left out of complete disgust and outrage. The few that stayed did so in hopes of changing the parish. My family finally left about 2 years ago for a neighboring parish, turning away from the parish where we all received our first Communion and Confirmation. Now, the families and individuals left at that parish have a grip on their homosexual agenda.

So, when I ran across the announcement from the Diocese of Cincinnati today that they are developing a new program to promote advocacy for homosexual youth. The program does not sound promising in the least.

Reading the document, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, we are provided with a morally licit and logically sound guideline for handling such situations. It presents a model of sex education that begins in the home, taught by parents, who are always the first teachers of their children.

I have seen personally how improper ministry to the sexually confused does not promote a true Catholic identity, but only serves to break down the Church. Perhaps Church supported groups, particularly ones supported by the Catholic Church, can take some advice from the what the Church actually teaches in implementing programs and groups to assist sexually troubled youth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Walking wounded"

(This post is not as well-thought out as I would have liked, but I do hope that you understand what I am trying to say!)

I am not sure where this phrase comes from, but it fits perfectly in the reality of our generation: all of us are walking wounded by the aftereffects of the sins on many levels, with the foremost of them being abortion. Abortion was and still is sold to women as the last-ditch solution to the "venereal disease" of an unplanned pregnancy (as Dr. Willard Cates of the Centers for Disease Control once said).

Fr. Frank Pavone has an article co-written with Dr. Philip Ney on the phenomenon known as "survivors syndrome." According to the article, all of us are survivors of abortion in one way or another, whether because we have biological siblings who were aborted or if we experienced abortion ourselves.

To get to the point, the idea for this post came while on an ice skating marathon in the City this weekend at Bryant Park. They had a beautiful Christmas tree that must have been 8 stories tall. Every ornament was the same, so I was curious what the ornament was. Disappointed, I read of the political agenda behind their seemingly Christmas display. "We all have AIDS," each ornament read.

What on earth are they proposing here? That we should all share this devastating disease much like we all share the emotional trauma of abortion? There is a difference, however, in that most AIDS cases are amongst those who have persisted in deviant sexual behavior such as homosexuality and fornication while knowing the physical effects of the disease. There are even those who chase the AIDS virus around and derive pleasure through spreading the disease. Everyone knows that AIDS is a disgusting disease that leads to a painful and unsightly death.

On the other hand, no woman gets an abortion simply because she wants to live with the harmful after effects. A woman who resorts to abortion does so because she perceives that it has many positive after effects such as freedom from the responsibility of a child, health reasons, financial stability, etc. Women do not desire the harmful consequences which by far outweigh any perceived "good" that can come from the procedure. No one knows of these devastating side effects, or they would never consider abortion a viable option in light of a difficult or undesired pregnancy

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Peace and justice in the bedroom

Once or twice a month, I get to meet with some of my favorite people: the priests and pastoral associates of Priests for Life. These folks provide me with encouragement, wisdom and a plethora of ideas for spreading the pro-life message, particularly with regards to contraception. You, my dear reader, will notice that I am going to focus more and more on this subject from now on in this blog.

I am firmly convinced that reliance on contraceptive devices has erased all sense of rationality and stability in marital relationships. This chaos has spilled over into society, because when there is not peace and justice in the bedroom, how can there be peace and justice in other aspects of private and public life? There can't be.

Let's compare it to one's spiritual life. For the sake of argument, let's make our subject a priest. He is a parish priest, serving as the assistant pastor of a parish with 2500 families. The monsignor is getting older, and therefore many of the administrative duties fall on our young priest. He has to manage the finances of the parish, oversee the scheduling of all events in the Church, celebrate Mass two times per day, be available for all pre-cana and baptism prep classes, and runs the religious education program. He also serves on the board of the local pregnancy resource center and prays at the abortion clinic two mornings per week. Wow! He is a busy man! With all of this pastoral responsibility, it can be quite easy for our young priest to forget to take one or two hours out of each day to spend with Our Lord in prayer. One hour would consist of praying the Divine Office throughout the day, and the other hour would be spiritual reading, meditating on Scripture, silent prayer, and celebrating the Holy Mass.

But, as the days, weeks and months pass, our priest lets his personal prayer life slip farther and farther away, to the point that he rarely says the bare minimum requirements of the Office. His time is captivated by outward duties, and interiorly, he is in shambles. His productivity at the parish has been decreasing more and more. His spirit and willingness to serve have been eroded. Soon enough, all of his good works become moot because the purpose of his vocation is no longer met. He no longer yearns to love and serve God, but only sees his duties as a job. He no longer spends his time falling deeper and deeper in love with God, but spends his time making things appear sufficient in secular affairs.

Eek!! God forbid this happen to any priest. Let's apply this to marriage through the use of contraception. Couples begin their marriage committed to each other and their vocation. Each takes their role seriously to server the other and to sacrifice for the good of their marriage. In their goodness, they give life to 5 wonderful children. Outward pressures of children's extracurricular activities, parental involvement demands, more work hours to provide material goods for the children and other things drive these wonderful parents to resort to the use of contraception. They think they can handle no more children in their marriage.

Through the use of contraception, their love for each other fades. The no longer see each other as an equal person to be loved, but an object to be used for infrequent sexual gratification. Each is no longer willing to make even the small sacrifices for the other. They harbor grudges and resentments toward each other for small things, then for minor things, then for large things. A wedge is driven into their love, and in the end, there is no more commitment to one another or the great sacrament that they share together. They divorce. The children's faith and trust and innocence are destroyed. A bad example is given to the children of other families in their neighborhood. The courts get involved, dictating the every action of the parents' involvement in the lives of the children. The children are emotionally harmed beyond repair.

You see, without peace and justice in the bedroom, there cannot be peace and justice in the world.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our Lady of Guadalupe and abortion

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe- Happy Feast Day!

This is an especially important feast day for Catholics in the pro-life movement because Our Lady of Guadalupe, or OLG as she is lovingly called, is the patroness of both the Americas as well as the unborn.

When she appeared to St. Juan Diego in the 16th century, her message was one of hope and of being Our Mother. She appeared as a pregnant Indian woman, and in her message, she pleaded with the Indians to stop the killing of infants and unborn children. These babies were killed as sacrifices to idols.

In her apparitions, she said:

Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.

Fittingly, a new study from Oslo, Norway was published today in BMC Medicine comparing the long-term psychological effects of miscarriage with long-term psychological effects of abortion. Not surprisingly, the study shows that while the immediate distress of miscarriage is greater, the long-term trauma and pain caused by abortion is far worse.

The pro-life movement has known this for years. Even for women who were very firm in their decision to abort, many come to regret this "choice" later in life. The explanation for the difference in the degree of suffering between miscarried mothers and aborted mothers also follows a logical sequence. The death of a loved one suddenly is frequently a harder emotional hurdle than the death of elderly or sickly loved one. The distress after an unexpected death is caused by the lack of closure that the survivors have, the lack of knowledge by the survivors of the destination of the individual's soul, and other elements. When someone is sickly, most survivors have a greater sense of closure with the deceased individual; they also feel that the proper "end" has come, and that the deceased one was able to resolve personal issues before death.

Hence, if a woman aborts, she feels that there has been closure. Women who have aborted have even said that they have "talked with the child" and "apologized for the abortion" before committing it. This initial, though false, sense of "closure" helps these mothers to justify the abortion internally and to feel a sense of relief, not guilt, immediately following the procedure. On the other hand, the woman who has miscarried feels she does not have closure with her dead child. She feels that the child's life came to an end before the planned time. This can lead to feelings of despair and grief over the child's death.

In time, mothers who abort will realize that causing the death of the child was wrong, and grief and regret will set in. Those women who suffered miscarriage will, in time, realize that there was little or nothing they could have done to prevent the death of their child and come to peace with it more naturally.

A wonderful prayer for the mother who has miscarried is available from EWTN.

For the mother who has suffered abortion, please visit the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.


Something else wonderful happened today, but I'm not sure if it's public knowledge yet… so, you, my dear reader, will have to wait and see!

Monday, December 5, 2005

Out for the week

The Revolution will be in hiding until Monday, Dec 12 as I prepare for the GRE exam. Please say a prayer for me!!!

Friday, December 2, 2005

Let them have their holiday. Let us have our faith.

My friend Ruben wrote this after hearing stories from people like me who are finding it impossible to find Christ in the commercialism of Christmas

A friend of mine recently went shopping for Christmas cards but came up empty handed – there weren’t any Christmas cards to be found! Had she been looking for “Holiday” cards instead, she would have been in luck.

The successful de-Christianization of our culture has brought this society to the point of celebrating “Holiday”. This is actually very good news indeed! Instead of having to purchase separate cards for Christmas, now one merely has to purchase a single set of “Holiday” cards for use throughout the year. In fact, the “Holiday tree” should be kept up year round and decorated with seasonal “decorations” – elves in December and chocolate rabbits in April.

And who knows, maybe if we celebrated Holiday at other times of the year, it will help the economy! Imagine hoards of people waiting overnight in line for hours for the opening day of “holiday” sales in the spring! I’m surprised the executives at Wal-Mart haven’t already come up with this plan.

On a serious note, maybe it’s time to give these holidays back to the modern day pagans. If people want their holiday tree, so be it. It has such little to do with the Birth of Christ and only muddies the water concerning Advent. Maybe in this way can the message of the birth of Christ be proclaimed with clarity.

Ask children what this Holiday is about, and they’ll respond with words like “Santa Claus, Gifts, and reindeer”.

Call me counter cultural, but I have taught my son that there isn’t a Santa Claus. His mother and I have brought him up to know the story of Saint Nicholas. We explained to him that for others, all they know about is Santa Claus, and that Santa Claus represents a misunderstanding of Saint Nicholas. My son has clarity on the Advent season, and maybe it’s a good thing to separate the commercialized Christmas, and its representative Mr. Claus, from Advent. Let the pagans have their “holiday”, and let us Christians have our faith.

South Africa makes gay unions legal

Really, who is this helping?

On the other hand, the Vatican is firmly taking a bold step in ensuring that they problem of pedophile or abusive priests is ended before it begins by prohibiting gay men to enter seminary or become ordained.

Fighting a culture of death is about more than just fighting abortion. We are in this to convert hearts and to restore a proper meaning to human sexuality, a meaning that God intended in the beginning.

Target stores- why can't we just say "thank you!" to them?

Target is one of the very few major stores that is defending the rights of their pharmacist employees against filling prescriptions for certain medications, such as birth control pills and the morning-after abortion pill. They allow pharmacists to opt-out for personal "conscience" reasons. Most other stores, such as Walgreen's are chastising their employees and FIRING them for having a conscience, Target stores realizes the importance of not trampling on the personal religious convictions of their employees. Personally, I think that's a whole lot more important than whether we are saying Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, or Bah Humbug!

(My dear reader, please don't misunderstand me... I certainly believe in the true Reason for the season, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! Please read previous post here.)

So, while many conservatives and Christians were boycotting one of my favorite stores during the Thanksgiving rush, I rushed in and bought myself a snazzy new outfit! Then, I sent them an e-mail… Thank you, Target! And… Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 1, 2005

RU-486 deaths- Who cares? Not NEJM!

Michael F. Greene, M.D., in this week's article "Fatal Infections Associated with Mifepristone-Induced Abortion" in the New England Journal of Medicine, basically says that the medical community is quite aware that women die from RU-486, but they don't really care. Full text of the article available for free. Read it!

Father's rights to their unborn child

For the past two weeks on his Defending Life show, Fr. Frank Pavone has been highlighting the phenomenon known as "lost fatherhood." Lost fatherhood is the name of the set of symptoms that men suffer from after the loss of a child through abortion. The testimonies of several fathers were shown, as well as their involvement with the National Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

You may be wondering why this is even an issue. Doesn't it seem obvious that a married woman would notify her husband upon the abortion of their child? Sadly, the Supreme Court doesn't seem to think it is necessary to require this precisely because it seems so obvious, however by ruling this way in their 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, they effectively stripped all fathers of unborn children from their legal rights to protect the life of that child from abortion. With the legal precedent set by Roe, this is to be expected, and gives us one more reason to fight for a human-life-at-conception amendment to the US Constitution.

Here are some excerpts from the Casey decision which struck down Section 3209, a provision "which command[ed] that, unless certain exceptions apply, a married woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement indicating that she has notified her husband." The following absurd statements speak for themselves on the extreme nature of the Casey decision.

This conclusion rests upon the basic nature of marriage and the nature of our Constitution: [T]he marital couple is not an independent entity with a mind and heart of its own, but an association of two individuals, each with a separate intellectual and emotional makeup. If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child… The husband's interest in the life of the child his wife is carrying does not permit the State to empower him with this troubling degree of authority over his wife. (505 U.S. 833, 896)

After all, if the husband's interest in the fetus' safety is a sufficient predicate for state regulation, the State could reasonably conclude that pregnant wives should notify their husbands before drinking alcohol or smoking. Perhaps married women should notify their husbands before using contraceptives or before undergoing any type of surgery that may have complications affecting the husband's interest in his wife's reproductive organs. And if a husband's interest justifies notice in any of these cases, one might reasonably argue that it justifies exactly what the Danforth Court held it did not justify - a requirement of the husband's consent as well. A State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.

Section 3209 embodies a view of marriage consonant with the common law status of married women, but repugnant to our present understanding of marriage and of the nature of the rights secured by the Constitution. Women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry. The Constitution protects all individuals, male or female, married or unmarried, from the abuse of governmental power, even where that power is employed for the supposed benefit of a member of the individual's family. These considerations confirm our conclusion that 3209 is invalid. (505 U.S. 833, 898)

I mention this case specifically because it was the reason that Judge Samuel Alito has been tagged as supportive of the pro-life cause (well, we hope!). Prior to being sent to the Supreme Court, this case was decided by three judges in Pennsylvania. Judge Alito was one of those three, and his opinion was that spousal consent was constitutionally protected.

In light of the upcoming hearings for Alito's confirmation, the New York Times has been featuring several op-eds focusing on the irony of a lack of spousal or fathers' rights. Please read today's article, "Man's right to choose" and an article from a few weeks ago, "Right to be a father."

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Great Advent homily

Fr. Peter West from Priests for Life gave a great homily for the Priests for Life staff today. Most of it is here.

So, what is the point of Advent? Not commercialism, my friends! It's a time to wait with Mary for the birth of Christ!

Today begins the novena to prepare for the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8. This is a great way to join the Blessed Mother in preparing for the birth of her Son.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas: the new 4-letter word

Those who have suffered through past Christmases with me know that I am very bad at sending Christmas cards. I get so busy, then I get overwhelmed, then it's the New Year, and once again, no one got a flat, little present from me. Sad, but true.

But, that's not the reason my friends and family may not see Christmas cards this year. This year, I simply can't find cards that portray the Christmas message. I spent my lunch hour at a local card story today, and not only did I trip over a display of candy canes and nearly break my neck and my leg, but I also search in vain for Christmas cards with a Christmas message.

Somehow, mentioning the Reason for the season has turned into a crime. And who is leading the assault other than every American's worst enemy: the ACLU. School districts are banning teachers from mentioning Christmas break and banning students from wearing red and green; towns are banning the displaying of nativity scenes; card stores won't stock anything that will offend the agnostic who celebrates "the holidays" but would rather offend the Christians who celebrate the Holy Day of Christmas.

But, there are organizations that are leading the fight to protect Christmas as well as the other religious freedoms guaranteed in the Founding Documents of our Nation. Among them are the Alliance Defense Fund and the Family Research Council. Please keep up with their work; subscribe to their daily updates and follow their action items.

So, as we prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas through the penitential season of Advent, let us remember to pray that our religious freedom won't be stripped from us in the name of "separation of church and state" or any other bogus claim that being American and being Christian are incompatible.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Abortion in the former USSR

Last Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in the former USSR. When the USSR split over a decade ago, those countries who regained their independence, such as Russia and Lithuania, retained the liberal laws regarding abortion. Due to the poverty of these nations, they continue to be a target for the Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion forces.

In a 2003 "Special Analysis" for the Planned Parenthood's Alan Guttmacher Institute, Amy Deschner and Susan Cohen insist that "Contraceptive use is key to reducing abortion worldwide." Their focus is the unbelievable abortion rates in Russia. Many women suffer eight to 10 abortions throughout their lives, with some women obtaining as many as 20 to 30!

Driven to abortion due to poverty, these pro-abortion forces mistakenly think (as you can see from the illogical sequence of the above article) that an increase in persistent use of contraceptives will cause the abortion rates to decline and thus solve the "problem" of pregnancy. Statistically for a country who already has unrestricted legal abortion and no real accessibility to contraceptives this may be true, however, statistics also show that every country that has open the door for increased use of contraceptives has subsequently suffered higher abortion rates. The connection between contraception and abortion is like a vicious cycle that feeds off itself creating more and more destruction. Deschner and Cohen are irresponsible in their statistical analysis when they say that contraception leads to a decline in abortion rates.

But, there is hope amid the efforts of the Planned Parenthood to spread sexual irresponsibility, contraception and abortion throughout these regions. New reports show that visas to Russia for missionary work will be restricted, but pro-lifers continue to work diligently to help pregnant women throughout the country.

The Mary Mother of God Mission Society sponsored by the Catholic Church in the US and Russia serves the needs of pregnant and post-abortive women in Russia in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

Human Life International has pro-life offices in over 50 foreign countries, including Lithuania and Russia. Their 2003 mission trip to Lithuania highlights the history of the pro-life movement there as well as the history of abortion.

The Life Ministries of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, a member organization of the National Pro-life Religious Council, is also taking part in pro-life mission trips to Russia. An update given in the NPRC quarterly newsletter "Uniting for Life" shows how their ministry, Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center in a suburb of St. Petersburg, is helping Russian women with practical assistance during and after pregnancy with baby items, maternity classes and job training.

Programs such as these pro-life programs are real solutions not only to pregnancy, but also to poverty. It is baffling that the Planned Parenthood is not interested in these programs, but only in their agenda to prevent births through abortion and contraception. Perhaps it is simply the eugenics philosophy of their founder coming through in the continued work of the Planned Parenthood throughout the world.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Women's health and OC's

I wasn't too surprised to read the misinformation about the birth control pill in the November issue of Parents magazine. The point of the short feature was to clarify four common myths about taking OC's. Their points were: "1. taking the pill cuts your cancer risk… 2. it won't make you gain weight… 3. it may hurt your sex drive… [and] 4. you need to get plenty of calcium."

The first point made was a claim that the Pill reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, but that is only half of the story. In a July 2005 press release, the World Health Organization classified estrogen-progesterone birth control pills as "carcinogenic to humans." (Carcinogenic means "cancer-causing.") They also "stressed that there is no convincing evidence that oral contraceptives have a protective effect against some types of cancer." They go on to admit that OC's increase the risk of some cancers (breast, cervix and liver) while decreasing the risk of others (endometrial and ovarian). Because of this benefit and risk relationship, it is hardly responsible for only one side of the information to be given to women. Encouraging women to use OC's or for government-funded programs to push for their universal use is irresponsible and dangerous to women's health.

Combined with a past abortion, OC's become even more dangerous. In their booklet "Breast Cancer: Risks and Prevention," the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute says that "having an induced abortion, especially as a teenager or before you have a full term pregnancy, increases the risk [of breast cancer]. If you do have an abortion, taking hormonal birth control after an abortion will increase the risk further. However, having children and breastfeeding them will reduce the risk."

It is also worth mentioning that one of the causes of osteoporosis is "consuming an inadequate amount of calcium." On the flipside of a lack of calcium consumption is taking pills or treatments that have decalcification effect. It is interesting to note that breastfeeding actually has a this effect, but after a mother has weaned her child, her bones become more strong and more dense, lowering her overall risk of osteoporosis (unless she takes an OC or other chemical birth control method).

Why isn't this information shared with women?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

AIDS, condoms and a Catholic bishop

I have a friend who lives in Nicaragua (an impoverished country in Central America) who likes to remind me what the thinks about the Catholic Church's view on the use of condoms. He claims that one of these days the Church is going to have to admit that they are absolutely essential for the prevention of AIDS, among other things. I fight him tooth and nail about this…

In January, 2005, he sent me a news item out of Spain of a bishop who was calling for the use of condoms to halt the spread of STDs. "I told you so" is all he could say. Well, thankfully, the Church continues to persist in her wisdom, and has not yet (and I assure you nor will she ever) condoned the use of condoms for any reason.

But, less than a year later, another bishop, this time from South Africa, is coming forward with the same claim: condoms stop the spreading of AIDS.

Foreign correspondent to the Chicago Tribune Laurie Goering tells a heart-wrenching tale of the poverty, disease and sin in a village called "Freedom Park" in South Africa. Her story cites extreme poverty of black people, mostly single women with children who find no other way to feed their children than to sell themselves as prostitutes.

The bishop of this area, Bishop Kevin Dowling, is not only a local pusher for condom use, he has become an international icon for Church dissent from the traditional teaching.

Abstinence and faithfulness in marriage, the church's answer to the AIDS epidemic, "are the only way to be sure you won't get infected. I have no problem with that," the controversial South African bishop acknowledges. But in his diocese, full of desperately poor women with few options beyond prostitution to feed their children, using condoms seems to him "a pro-life option in the widest sense."

"For me, the issue is simply this: How do you preserve and protect life?" he said last week at his offices in Phokeng, a poor township on the outskirts of Rustenburg, west of Pretoria. In a diocese like his, he said, "the only solution we have at the moment is condoms."

Dowling believes that in his diocese--and in much of AIDS-afflicted Africa--the primary effect of using condoms would not be contraception but "to stop transmission of a death-dealing virus." Under church doctrine, that is "not only allowable, it's a moral imperative," he said. "The principle is to protect life. I'm fighting for the principle here."

Dowling believes the church's continuing rejection of condoms reflects a lack of firsthand experience with the AIDS epidemic and an inherent conservatism that makes questioning old doctrine unsettling.

"There's a sense of security from black and white," he said. "You can't do this. You can do that. But most of life is gray.

Dowling said he hopes an insertable microbicidal gel that would allow women to effectively kill the virus without their partners knowing the gel was there will eventually come on the market and begin stemming the epidemic.

But for now, AIDS remains "the defining issue of the whole sociocultural fabric," he says. In Rustenburg, with its sick and orphaned and jobless, "there's no doubt HIV-AIDS is going to dominate this society for years to come."

He calls the traditional teaching on contraception as well as the traditional social teaching of care of the elderly an "ivory-tower approach" to the AIDS issue. Sadly, what this bishop is totally missing is the point. In the face of such devastating poverty and disease, the first goal should be providing nutrition and jobs for the people. Jobs are places where work is done and personal rights are respected. Prostitution is not a job, but an illegal action and a violation of and degradation to women.

Next, the government needs to be addressing the prostitution issue sternly by jailing those men who persist in shaming, diseasing and abusing women. The Church should be assisting in this by providing spiritual direction and practical assistance, not give an implied wink-and-nod to the sin by passing out and fighting for condom use.

Also, all the money and effort that it takes to push condoms should be used to set up programs for women to receive housing, food and medical care. It should also be used to help create jobs for men and women so they can learn how to provide for their families.

It is truly a sad situation, but the answer is not, nor will it ever be, to spread condoms.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Preschool: helping raise poorly adjusted children

Last week,, one of my favorite pro-life news sources, broke a story about the harm done to children whose parents place them in preschool. Often preschool is used by parents who work or feel that their child has a development disability. It is also used mostly by parents who have just one or two children. reports that in reality, "preschool has a negative effect on a child's social and emotional development, according to a study of 14,000 US preschool children." Surprisingly, it is the white children of middle-class families who suffer the most from preschool, and the earlier a child enters, the worse off he or she is.

Another study from 2001 goes hand-in-hand, showing that "the more hours children spend in daycare, the more likely they are to become aggressive, disobedient, and defiant by the time they are in kindergarten."

Clearly, the issue is not the content of the lessons at preschool, but the neglect and abandonment a child feels by not being around at least one of the parents throughout the day. The two-parent family structure is not just some "freak of nature," but it is the best environment for a child to be raised, to be challenged and to grow.

In their report, "Why Marriage Matters (Second edition)," the Institute for American Values drew 26 conclusions about the importance of marriage from the social sciences. One of those conclusions is that "children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than do children in other family forms."

Part of "liv[ing] with their own two married parents" is actually having stable, wholesome time with them. When parents neglect their children in order to hold two jobs outside of the home, an overbearing social schedule, memberships to sports clubs and country clubs, and more, the children feel that neglect in the fact that they are "pawned off" on daycares and preschools to raise them.

It can be said that preschool only helps parents to neglect the responsibility of childrearing. Stay-at-home moms and homeschooling moms have known for years that the best place for children to grow up is in the home. Though the convenience of preschool helps parents be able to provide more material goods for their children or provide peer groups for the young children, their social upbringing and health are hindered because they are not in the natural structure of a family. (Learning happens naturally when a child observes older and younger siblings and two parents as well as their interaction with each other.)

In paragraph 48 of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, the Pontifical Council for the Family states:

The family environment is thus the normal and usual place for forming children and young people to consolidate and exercise the virtues of charity, temperance, fortitude and chastity. As the domestic church, the family is the school of the richest humanity. This is particularly true for the moral and spiritual education on such a delicate matter as chastity.

They also call families "rich in the strengths" necessary for the proper upbringing of children. With social development linked so closely to a child's upbringing in chastity, virtue and goodness, it is so important that families make the sacrifices necessary to raise children in loving service of the God who entrusted them with that precious little life.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Vees and triangles: variations to adultery

They call it Polyamorous, the post-modern family: teams of three or more lovers who are in open, committed emotional and/ or sexual relationships where all parties know about the relations each has with the other lovers. Sounds like an abomination from the Old Testament or a fantasyland created by Playboy, right? Nope, it's a growing trend, especially here in my backyard, my beautiful New York City.

This is not normal. It is the case of one or both lovers having and unhealthy and dis-ordered emotional or sexual attachment to a person other than his or her spouse. What it amounts to in reality is adultery.

Maintaining friendships while married is important. A husband should have, but not be overly committed to, his male friends as well as be able to have close friendships with his female family members, such as sisters, sisters-in-law and cousins. The same goes for the wife. She should have friendships with her other female friends, especially those who are mothers like herself. She should also be able to maintain healthy, proper friendships with her male relatives.

But, when any of these relationships turn into unhealthy homo- or heterosexual love interests, whether emotional or sexual, both husband and wife have failed to understand their vocation, the call to chastity within marriage as well as the necessity of fidelity within marriage.

Unfortunately, these types of deviant loves are to be expected. There is no fulfillment in relationships because people marry for lust not love. People are confused as to what makes them happy. After a series of sexually deviant behaviors, people will sooner or later come to realize that the only fulfillment is in a God-centered relationship of love, sacrifice and service. If they marry for love, they would be fulfilled and happy.

Lust, on the other hand, is the trend of divorcing love from suffering. It only seeks good feelings with another person without concern for what is good for that person. To truly love someone is to will the good for them and to desire to serve that person. It is not about feelings, and doesn't hinge on communication. It is not jealous, nor does it justify jealousy by transforming it into "compersion," the polyamorous term that refers to the ability to use jealousy as a means to derive personal joy from the one's lovers other love interest.

What is first, husband and wife must be in love with God before they can be in love with one another. Only then can they truly be satisfied with their love relationship.

The hope is too, for those who feel overly tempted by the "feel-good," all-emotional temptations of lust and those who have been hurt, abused and molested by the modern notion of lust: asking God to restore and renew your heart according to His will.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Human Sexuality

This post contains content that is not meant for children under the age of 16.

One of today's questions caught my eye because I don’t recall being asked this anytime within the past year. A teacher who is planning to run for political office inquires: "Should a Catholic leader be making political moves to outlaw contraceptives- not just the 'maybe contraceptive, maybe abortifacients,' but things like condoms and other physical barrier types?"

Absolutely! A Catholic politician ought to support legislation that would prohibit the use, distribution or funding of contraceptives, including condoms. Political moves to outlaw contraceptives and to restore the proper meaning and context to human sexuality are essential. I then encouraged him to make this a central point of his "ministry" as a politician, as it will undoubtedly restore order to a sexually-confused culture.

Contraception is a social ill as well as a hindrance to spousal relations. It redefines the sexual act and thus puts it in the context of a recreational activity instead of a holy act of spouses meant for the purposes of procreation and union. Among other negative effects, when contraception creeps into a marriage, the children are not given and example of trust in God, self-sacrifice or service to others. On the other hand, they are give a message of self-gratification and this creates a skewed understanding of human sexuality.

Let's discuss human sexuality for a little bit. In our "over-sexualized" society, the very term "sexuality" typically refers to using ones sexual faculties to achieve orgasm or simply for recreation. This attitude has justified many deviant sexual behaviors such as oral sex and homosexuality.

In Her wisdom, the Catholic Church speaks much differently about the meaning of human sexuality. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2332-2335, it says:

Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

"In creating men 'male and female,' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity." "Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God."

Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." All human generations proceed from this union.

According to these definitions, sexuality only refers to the act in as much as it is within the covenant of marriage and open to life. It is through that union of husbands and wives that procreation is meant to happen.

More accurately, our human sexuality is God's writing on our hearts of how we are to love one another but not necessarily in a sexual way. Sexual love is a higher form of love, a vocation which is the responsibility of those who discern it, not the right of all people by the mere factor that our bodies have the capacity to experience it physically.

With this understanding, we can see how the deviant acts of homosexuality and masturbation, for example, are grave offenses against our human sexuality.

So, in order for a Catholic leader or politician to serve the Church as well as all of his constituents, he must accept the responsibility of ensuring that laws protect human sexuality and place it in its proper context.

Recommended reading: The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, a 1996 document of the Pontifical Council for the Family that describes recommended guidelines for sexual education within the family, which is its proper place.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Adoption should not be taken lightly

One of the arguments that the pro-abortion movement continually tries to use to convince society of the necessity of abortion is that with adoption, the birth parents "will have someone else raise their baby." This view is seen as simply unacceptable for their rigid ideology because all pregnancies, not just all children, must be planned. It hardly seems logical that a planned pregnancy would result in an adoption plan, and therefore all adoption plans must come from an unplanned pregnancy. The solution for an unplanned pregnancy for pro-choice'ers? Abortion.

Adoption is a very loving and generous choice for a mother to make. It entails a great deal of sacrifice and trust, and it is not to be taken lightly by the pro-life movement or by the families of a woman who has offered her child to an adoptive family.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with a woman for about an hour whose friend is struggling immensely due to the decision she made to give her child for adoption over 20 years prior. She recently reconnected with her child only to find out that the "good, Catholic" family experienced a tragic divorce and the girl was now a pro-abortion advocate and does not attend church. This mother is now racked with guilt, regret and despair over her decision to give the child for adoption.

She also feels that it is her "fault" that the child had such a negative upbringing. Though this mother has said that she would have never chosen abortion, she compares her feelings to those of the post-abortive woman because of the fact that she "aborted" the relationship she had with the child. The difference, however between abortion and adoption is that the woman who aborted did not just sever her relationship with the child, as happens also in adoption, but she severed the child’s relationship with humanity.

I spoke with Fr. Frank Pavone about this conversation at length, and he offered the following pastoral guidance as well as practical insight.

"The grief over what a child placed for adoption ultimately does is essentially the grief of a parent over what their child raised by them ultimately does," said Fr. Pavone. "It’s just a different form of that, because in both cases the parent blames him/herself. It’s just that [the] adoption becomes a much easier target to blame. It’s a difficulty accepting the reality of freedom, and that no matter how loving a parent is, there are many other factors at work to shape the child."

In addition to the reality that the rearing of a child does not guarantee the child's outcome, Fr. Pavone spoke strongly about the need to reform the adoption process to be more caring toward the birth mother and father.

"Another thing this brings up is that there is a need for counseling when someone makes an adoption plan, to help them in advance to prepare for the many different kinds of things that can happen," concluded Fr. Pavone.

Parents who want to use IVF or want to contracept as well as mothers who later regret adoption all suffer from this same faulty philosophy: they perceive that they have a right to the life of the child. But that is simply not true, and as I've said before, the only right you can speak of in the situation of bearing new life is the right to life of the child and the right of that child to be raised in a loving home. The parents, on the other hand, have the responsibility to accept this challenge as a part of their part in procreation, which is the greatest end of marriage, and one of the two ends toward which the conjugal act is directed. (The other is the union of the spouses.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

"The Last Abortion Clinic"

Tonight, a PBS Frontline special highlighted the political and legislative tactics used by pro-life organizations to regulate abortion, close abortion clinics and provide positive alternatives for women.

Unfortunately, this documentary was nothing more than an opportunity for the mainstream media, under the guise of objective reporting for public television, to tell a story of the big, bad pro-life'er coming to trample on women's rights… in the name of women's rights. It presented the pro-abortion side as the weak damsel in need of the helping hand of all sympathetic parties.

"It only attempted to take a neutral position, " said Joe Lanzilotti, student at Ave Maria University and pro-life activist. Make no mistake, this documentary was anything but neutral. The documentary gave an improper perception of pro-life activists as well as the movement itself.

I couldn't help while watching to think of those who honestly trust the mainstream media for accurate information about current events. These people allow their opinion to be changed at will by the public opinion portrayed in the media. In making pro-life activists seem like the ones who disregard the Constitution and a model of extremism, the person who is "one-the-fence" on abortion could have been quickly pushed to the pro-choice side. They used the guilt tactics of pointing out the inaccessibility of abortion to poor and rural women as a hindrance to equal access to this "right." Their eugenics mentality, the mentality that began the Planned Parenthood was put right in our faces, but in a way that would convince anyone of the legitimacy of abortion for these cases. But, abortion for these women does not help them; it only continues to push them into despair and poverty.

"They made it seem like pro-life activists take care of women merely as a tactic to end abortion," Lanzilotti said. "What they don't realize is that we do care for women; they are victims too."

The show emphasized that pro-life'ers don't care about women after the birth of the child. But, the truth is that pro-choice supporters don't care about women after abortion! This has become increasingly evident by the rise of abortion recovery ministries, all run by pro-life activists. We do the clean up job for the damage done by the abortion providers. Of course we want to regulate abortion. They have demonstrated the inability to self-regulate like every other medical field has succeeded in doing.

"The Frontline documentary contained typical rhetoric from abortion advocates and blatantly disregarded new developments in research and public awareness about the negative impact abortion has on women, children and families," said Kristen Panico, pro-life activist who helped with the formation of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Despite the plea at the end for help in the form of the desperate realization by the pro-choice movement that they are loosing, Panico reiterated the determination with which pro-life activists work.

Said Panico, "what they do not realize is that we will never give up because women deserve better than abortion."

Friday, November 4, 2005

Head v. Heart

The raging conflict between one's head and one's heart is all too common for most people. Imagine making a decision to leave your post on the front of the battle lines of the pro-choice movement in order to join the opposition? An abundance of God's grace certainly is given to women and men who courageously win the battle within themselves between their head and heart.

I had the rare opportunity to converse with a woman this week who told me she was just beginning to accept the pro-life message, but had some questions that were bothering her about personal choice. Great questions, and I'd like to share the answers with you, my dear reader, for the sake of your pro-life work, study or consideration. (Wording of the questions has been altered for the sake of confidentiality.)

Why do people think they have the right to interfere with a person's actions or decisions?

First of all, Christian charity and duty requires us to be concerned for the good of every person. Abortion is not only a sin against a child, but also a sin against the mother, father and all of society. "Interfering with the choice" of another person is only valid if the choice a person is about to make affects no one but him/herself. However, the choice to abort is different. It affects many others. In addition, many women do not realize the harm they bring to themselves by the act of abortion. Furthermore, many women are coerced into abortion, which makes the defense against this sin all the more necessary.

Why can't pro-life activists just understand that abortion is a personal decision to be made according to one's own conscience?

The Church does teach that each individual has free will and that decisions ought to be made according to one's conscience. There is a catch, however, in that a person must have a well-formed conscience, and that "free will" ends when the rights of others begin. In the book of Genesis, Cain killed Abel, his brother, and to his defense, Cain asks God "Am I my brother’s keeper?" Many misunderstand this comment to think that each individual lives in a vacuum, but that reality is quite the opposite. God's response is not simply "Yes, you are your brother's keeper," but punishes Cain sufficiently for his sin.

The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."

This is a punishment that is "more than [he] can bear," and he laments over his sin in these words: "Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." This story demonstrates the responsibility we have for all our fellow human beings.

Why should a politician be supported when all he wants to do is restrict access to abortion regardless of his personal views on the matter?

First of all, if a politician is "restricting access to abortion" against his own convictions, that means he is doing it for the sake of his constituents. That's wonderful! We want politicians who listen to the people they represent!

With that said, questions regarding political responsibility go hand-in-hand with the above explanation. It is the responsibility of our elected officials to defend the life of all, especially the most defenseless- the unborn and the elderly. But, through "restricting access to abortion" politicians also help pregnant women who often do not have the support or resources during a difficult pregnancy. The abortion industry preys on these women to make money, and this leads to catastrophic consequences, as is evidenced in the extensive research done by post-abortion awareness groups. You may be interested in reading testimonies from women who aborted, and there are thousands of these available from Priests for Life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

A consequence of sin

Celebrity Brook Shields recently announced that she is pregnant with her second child. This comes as a shock after hearing her devastating tales of post-partum depression that she recounted in her book Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.

Recent studies from Australia reveal that mothers of children conceived through IVF are more prone to medical complications and four times more likely to suffer from post-partum depression. Shields' first child was conceived through IVF.

In addition, as many as one-in-six children conceived in vitro do not make it to birth, but die at some point either naturally or unnaturally. Perhaps the knowledge that about 85% of children are killed, not born, in the IVF procedure helps to compound that grief.

In addition, the faulty philosophy that leads a parent to resort to IVF is also found in the sins of contraception, abortion and "perfect baby syndrome." It is the attitude that a child is a right. But, that's not true. When speaking of personal rights in procreation, the only rights that exist are the rights of children to be born and loved, and the parents have the right to please each other and make each other happy. No one has the right to demand or deny the right to life of another person.

This philosophy drives barren couples as well as couples that sternly demand to be barren to misinterpret not only the means and ends of marriage (procreation and education of children), but also the meaning of our very existence as a gift from God.

One can only wonder whether the conception of her second child took this staggering evidence into account, and whether the child was conceived naturally. Of course, only time will tell, but this evidence should act as a stern warning to mothers against the sin of IVF.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Pro-life medical students- where to turn?

I sometimes notice trends in the emails I receive from various pro-life volunteers and supporters through out the country. Today, I found a unusually large amount of mail from concerned medical students looking for pro-life support in their studies. Sadly, I have yet to come in contact with a large-scale pro-life medical student association. While there are a few organizations that have college outreaches, there are none specifically for medical students.

There are several pro-life medical associations already in place, and with their guidance, I think it would be quite possible for a group of med students such as these to launch a pro-life association. That is exactly how Med Students for Choice began over 10 years ago- pro-abortion medical students got together and made it happen. MSFC is a national organization that has gained much momentum both in the medical community, and in the work of the pro-abortion movement at large.

Here is the advice I gave, and I welcome any input or information about individual pro-life medical student groups. Please send this to liveprolife at gmail dot com. Thank you!

Dr. Byron Calhoun from the American Association of Pro-life Ob/ Gyn's has expressed interest in forming a pro-life group of medical students. Also, this organization is helpful for those who anticipate an Ob/Gyn practice.

One More Soul is a group that promotes “NFP only” physicians of various types of medical practices.

American Collegians for Life is an extensive network of pro-life student groups from various colleges and universities. ACL holds an annual student conference during the weekend nearest to the March for Life, which I highly recommend.

The Feminists for Life college outreach program may be helpful; the message of Feminists for Life is taken very well by college students.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center promotes the dignity of life in healthcare. They have a great internship program, and they offer expert consultations in union with the teachings of the Catholic Church on difficult medical decisions.

Lastly, the Catholic Medical Association may or may not have an interest in a Catholic or pro-life med students group, but their partnership is certainly invaluable.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Elizabeth Anscombe: building a Culture of Life

Mercedes Gutierrez's weekly column from Catholic News Agency introduces us to the woman behind a newly formed chastity group at Princeton University: Elizabeth Anscombe. One of Ms. Anscombe's best know works is a lengthy paper called "Contraception and Chastity." I'm only about one quarter through reading this, however I would like to offer my comments of what I have read so far.

Ms. Anscombe is a smart woman; this was written in 1977, however she offers us insight into the human heart, not just the legalistic points of living the moral life. She speaks from her own experience as a convert and as a mother and wife.

In the beginning of her paper, she introduces what she calls the "contraceptive morality," an attitude that was beginning to take shape during her time in which women were being sold out as objects due to the availability of somewhat-effective contraceptive measures and ultimately availability of abortion services.

In the first part of her paper, she says the following with regard to the true reasons of the human heart for choosing chastity over contraception.

Against the background of a society with that [contraceptive] morality, more and more people will have intercourse with little feeling of responsibility, little restraint, and yet they just won't be so careful about always using contraceptives… Now if this - that you won't get this universal "taking care" - is the only objection then it's a pretty miserable outlook. Because, like the fear of venereal disease, it's an objection that's little capable of moving people or inspiring them as a positive ideal of chastity may.

When contraception is chosen over chastity, the purpose of marriage is clouded by selfishness and pleasure, in lieu of its first purpose as an environment suitable for the procreation and education of children.

More to come on this fantastic paper later!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

"When you care enough to send the very best"

I went to Hallmark on Thursday, as I do during many of my lunch hours. The office I work at is in the midst of 10 huge apartment buildings, two high schools full of rowdy kids that are not the least bit interested in academics, a decent neighborhood and 5 shopping centers. Aside from a 20-minute walk down to the beach or to St. Charles parish, the one place amidst this to retreat from all of this is the local Hallmark store. This place has kept me entertained, and I have kept them open by "caring enough to send my very best" for the past year or so…

Back to lunchtime. As usual, I got caught up reading each and every card simply to imagine the situations that would go with each, dreaming of the time I would give or receive it. In my daydreams, I pick up the 50th wedding anniversary card, the new baby card and the "I miss you-come back" card. Thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones, I read the get-well card and the sympathy card. Some of them are just so thoughtful, and they really make you treasure friendships, and so forth. No one is going to deny that getting mail is like getting a little piece of love.

I stopped in my tracks when I found this card (I tried to find it online at, but to no avail): A card featuring two grown men. Though they were just little pencil drawings, it was obvious that both were men, and that the woman did not simply have short hair. Three scenes showed the one lover giving an apple pie and a bouquet of flowers to the other. The font would also suggest that it is from a man to a man. "Loving me is a full-time job. Thanks for putting in over-time" was the message on the inside. Yup, this card is definitely from Harry to Mike. You really can express anything with a Hallmark card, huh?

Well, this little revelation is certainly not the first time the gay community has succeeded in putting their vulgarity in our faces. In fact, there is even a non-profit organization, The Commercial Closet, that works to urge major corporations to include gay love in their advertising and products. Their website keeps track of their success, and it applauds companies that are sensitive to the portraying gay love as just another part of American life.

I speculate that it will not be long before there is a "same-sex" section at your local card shop. This vulgar message is so clear in so many other aspects of our lives, from TV to print advertisements, from biased media reports, from gay-straight alliances at schools, from general attitudes that embrace vice and shun virtue...

I urge you, my dear reader, to stay educated: visit the Alliance Alerts page from the Alliance Defense Fund. You can also subscribe and have the daily alerts sent to your inbox. One section of the Alliance Alert specifically addresses GLBT issues.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Catholic Institutions- what's the point?

Duquesne University student Ryan Miner has been threatened with expulsion for expressing his disgust with the gay lifestyle in a private forum, The biggest surprise is not that his conservative views are being censored, but that they are being censored by the administration of a Catholic university! This university seems not to understand the role they have in preserving and upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church in the running of their institution of higher education.

First of all, is a private forum. In order to participate in it, however, your university must agree and register with them, and participating students must do so with a college-issued e-mail address. The first purpose of this forum is so that students could link with others in their classes for the sake of academics, but it has grown to be a favored extracurricular activity for many students.

Despite the fact that it is recognized by the individual school, is quite surprising that the administration of the university would take a comment written on the forum so... seriously. This student was merely expressing his rights to free speech in a forum, one of the first rights guaranteed to citizens. The only little problem is that private institutions do have the right to censorship. That is where this story beings to shock us, however, because the views expressed by this student are consistent with Catholic moral teaching... and, remember, Duquesne is a Catholic school!

Surprising, yet again, is that there are plenty of things that actually are offensive on Facebook. Though I am not a member myself, my little brother and my best friend from high school eat, sleep and breathe Facebook. To me, it seems like an addiction. It appears much like a personals ad, but it is also a place to show what you are really worth: what you do, how many friends you have, what you believe, etc. Because of these two people, I have been able to spend time on Facebook on several occasions. I was not surprised to see things that offended me, from pictures to quotes to sexual innuendos. Personally, I am more worried about these things! If there is going to be censorship, at least let there be equal rights in censorship, and let those who post these things be disciplined as well. But, the administration of the participating universities hardly takes note of these radically immoral views. On the contrary, the attack those expressing Christian moral values.

This situation points to a much larger problem that gained much attention during the fierce battles waged before the '04 presidential elections: there is much resistance from Catholic institutions to properly represent her teachings, most notably her teachings on morality. Perhaps prophetically, Pope John Paul II issued a letter in June '04 to several Catholic bishops who were on their ad limina visit to Rome. This letter served as a reminder of the role of Catholic institutions, as outlined in his 1990 encyclical Ex Cordia Ecclesiae. This letter reminds the bishops of their role in ensuring that all of the Catholic institutions, from universities to hospitals to charitable organizations, are following all of the teachings of the Church in the course of their work. He outlines the role of all of these institutions as places that

must not only assist the faithful to think and act fully in accordance with the Gospel, overcoming every separation between faith and life (cf. Christifideles Laici, n. 34), but they must themselves embody a clear corporate testimony to its saving truth. This will demand constantly re-examining their priorities in the light of their mission and offering a convincing witness within a pluralistic society to the Church's teaching, particularly on respect for human life, marriage and family, and the right ordering of public life.

One section of the letter specifically addresses Catholic colleges and universities. John Paul II refers to the distinction of a Catholic school as possessing a unique identity.

A truly Catholic education will aim at an integration of knowledge within the context of a vision of the human person and the world which is enlightened by the Gospel. By their very nature, Catholic colleges and universities are called to offer an institutional witness of fidelity to Christ and to his word as it comes to us from the Church, a public witness expressed in the canonical requirement of the mandatum.

Furthermore, John Paul II quotes his earlier document sternly reminding these institutions of higher education that if they stray from their role in preserving and promoting Catholicism, they are abandoning the very essence of their work.

These institutions should be at the forefront of the Church's dialogue with culture, for "a faith which remains on the margins of culture would be a faith unfaithful to the fullness of what the word of God manifests and reveals, a truncated faith, and even worse, a faith in the process of self-destruction" (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 44).

To meet the needs of the Church in this area, the Cardinal Newman Society works to promote these teachings. Thank God for their hard work and dedication! Please take a moment to visit their website.

So, what is the point of Catholic institutions? To proclaim the Gospel!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Carnival of Life, number 5

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, recently visited the parents and siblings of Terri Schiavo, and was able to visit Terri's grave. Here are his reactions on this visit to her tomb.

Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer, Lutheran pastor from Pittsburgh, points out the sick irony of the news that human remains are being used to create cosmetics.

Rev. Stiegemeyer also provides a brief reflection on the origins of our human nature, in light of the current debates over the place of the Intelligent Design theory in our nation's schools.

Papijoe highlights the current activity of euthanasia promoter Lord Joel Joffe. Lord Joffe is portrayed in a recent article as seemingly heroic.

Sean McConeghy writes this bit of satire in light of some other not-so-wise decisions that have recent come out of the White House.

Mary Worthington (Carnival host this week!) writes about the situation surrounding a Missouri inmate who aborted her child last week. This story is far from over!

Thanks for reading the Carnival this week!

The right to be in jail

Last Wednesday, a Missouri inmate obtained an abortion at the Planned Parenthood in downtown St. Louis. This situation caused quite a stir because she was pregnant when entering jail and had had the intention of aborting her child at that time. However, due to the circumstance of her arrest, she was unable to abort before entering jail.

Her lawyer petitioned for permission for her to abort, and shockingly, it was as success. Despite the pleas of the governor of the State, the courts ruled that she must be allowed to abort, the Supreme Court of the US did nothing to deny the abortion when the petition crossed their path.

The first think that came to mind when I saw the judgement of the Supreme Court on this matter was the extreme contradiction. According to this same Court, abortion is a right!! And, what do we do with rights when we go to jail? That's right, children, we forfeit them! Inmates forfeit their rights by the nature of the crime committed. As inmates, they no longer enjoy the right to vote, the right to conjugal visits, and the rights to many other freedoms.

But abortion is different. Abortion is unlike every other right that is granted in the Founding Documents of our Nation. The right to abortion supersedes the right to informed consent. It is above the right of a parent to express consent or notification in the healthcare decision of their minor daughters. It is above the responsibilities of safe, clinical regulations. It is above every other right that is granted by our Constitution.

Abortion always flies right under the radar screen, or maybe sometimes over it. It is the be-all, end-all right that has been dividing our nation since long before Roe.

Thankfully, some speculate that this is only beginning of a long battle over the exact position of the right to abortion in the lives of prison inmates and others.

State senator Rob Mayer expressed his concerns in these words, "I would also like to see what reason the Supreme Court had for ruling the way it did. In the past, the courts usually rule in favor of the Department of Corrections."

Stay tuned to this story in the near future…

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chastity or Abstinence?

Recent news highlights the fact that liberals are vying for over-the-counter access to the dangerous "Plan B" abortifacient drug. While the liberals may have good intentions in wanting to reduce abortion or pregnancy, the answer is not to introduce dangerous drugs to the general public.

The situation begs the question of whether they aim to reduce abortion rates or reduce pregnancy rates. The reduction of both can be done with effective education, prayer and challenge to live a virtuous life. Often, the term “pregnancy prevention” is used to promote a vigorous plan of using “how-to” sex education, contraceptives and abortion to the youth, the poor, and minorities. This plan inadvertently contributes to the epidemic spread of STD’s and heartache, instance of teen pregnancy and a general disrespect for the human person. The great demise of our society can be said to have its roots in “how-to” sex education.

Obviously, this is not true pregnancy prevention; this is birth prevention. A plan that would truly prevent pregnancy would introduce sex as something sacred and good that must be reserved for marriage. It would present self-control as a virtue that is attainable. It would recognize the sacredness of human intimacy as a gift from God, and place the good of children and families above the intensity of sexual gratification. Pregnancy prevention would condemn pornography, promiscuity and masturbation. It would encourage chastity, a message that goes far beyond the “scare-me” tactics used in most abstinence education.

A recent article in Focus on the Family’s “Citizen Link” highlights the polar difference between abstinence and chastity. Though these words are often used interchangeably, the attitude behind each is quite unique.

Robert Rector, senior research fellow for domestic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, said teens who abstain are less likely to attempt suicide, more likely to have stable marriages and more apt to succeed in life.

"Abstinence from sex allows teens to focus on more important tasks it also means that they have stronger character traits inside them that are enabling them to go on and succeed," he noted. "That's a very positive message."

Mr. Rector may have realized some very important things about abstinence, but the message of abstinence itself does not contribute to a full and proper understanding of human sexuality.

Though abstinence is one of the key ingredients of chastity outside of marriage, it is not the only ingredient. Chastity is an attitude that is carried on even into marriage, therefore it must consist of a proper understanding of sexuality in all circumstances. For example, some actions are always gravely immoral, such as masturbation or the use of pornography. Some actions are proper and good in some circumstances and improper in others, such as intercourse. A message of abstinence presumes that sex is bad and must be avoided for mostly practical purposes. A message of chastity, on the other hand, teaches that sex must be used in its proper context: within marriage and for the procreation of children. This message of chastity is based on a proper understanding of human sexuality.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fr. Jim Pilsner

Nothing else has been on my mind today, and I ask for your prayers for Fr. Jim and his family. Fr. Jim and I would travel to the abortion clinic in Brooklyn on Saturdays to pray and sidewalk counsel. May God have mercy on his soul, and may he rest in peace.

Read full article here.

Please visit for updated information on the funeral.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The vocation crisis and contraception

I drove back from my sister's wedding on Sunday with my older brother who is in the seminary. The seminary is just two hours away from my "home" in New York City. Both of us have been very sick for the past week, and sadly this fact made any meaningful conversation quite impossible. Each time he said something that under normal circumstances would lead to a 30-minute discussion, I would remind him of my inability to formulate a coherent argument… This cycle repeated itself at least 20 times during our 7-hour ride!

At one point, Richard said something I know I would want to ponder later, so I got out my notebook and scribbled it down. "When I get to heaven, I want to have a long conversation with God about the vocation crisis," he said.

Richard has been spending the past few months, and will spend the next 6 years, studying and praying to prepare to become a Catholic priest. He started talking about the excitement and joy of being in the seminary. Here, he has the opportunity to live a life structured around prayer and study, as well as to maintain a balanced social life especially in fostering brotherhood among the fellow seminarians. "If only young men knew how great it was, they would be flocking to the seminary!" he exclaimed.

Yes, if men realized how great seminary is, they WOULD be flocking to it! The problem is that vocations are not fostered in our boys and young men by their families, parishes, communities or culture. My speculation, of course, is that the vocation crisis is a direct result of contraception. Please allow me to explain.

With contraception comes selfishness and lack of communion with the Church. With contraception comes a lack of large families, and therefore parents are less willing to encourage their boys to become priests or their girls to become sisters. Though parents want "their two," these same parents have hopes and expectations of a flock of grandkids later in life.

That's when the plan backfires, and grief is multiplied. These children have been raised to divorce marriage from children because of that same "contraceptive mentality." They have even fewer children than their parents, sometimes purposefully entering marriage without the intention to have children. They mutilate their bodies by sterilization, perhaps unknowingly mutilating their relationship with each other and God.

In the end, church pews are empty, and the area priest drives hundreds of miles on a weekend to celebrate Mass at three different parishes.

When families have more children, parents are more apt to foster vocations. Large families have always brought more vocations.

I would love to develop this thought even more, however my health is not quite up-to-par, and I therefore leave you with these brief reflections.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Novena for Ellen and Aaron

Dear family, friends and all my dear readers

I will be on vacation for the next week, and posting will resume on Oct 17. While I am gone, please join me in prayer! My sister Ellen is getting married in nine days to Aaron. They will be married on Oct 15, the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. Please pray the nine-day novena for the intercession of St. Teresa for the sake of my dear sis and her marriage.

Here is a quick guide:
First day- Thursday, Oct 6
Second day- Friday, Oct 7
Third day- Saturday, Oct 8
Fourth day- Sunday, Oct 9
Fifth day- Monday, Oct 10
Sixth day- Tuesday, Oct 11
Seventh day- Wednesday, Oct 12
Eight day- Thursday, Oct 13
Ninth day- Friday, Oct 14
Tenth day- feast of St. Teresa of Avila and wedding of Ellen and Aaron

Thank you so much for your prayers and your loyalty to my postings. God bless you!

Mary W.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Revisiting euthanasia

The first news of the morning highlights the current Supreme Court case that revisits euthanasia. An APstory on Yahoo! News (please note this story is continually updated; it longer reads as follows) features a disgusting pro-euthanasia bent to it. The first sentence (at the time- this is a constantly updated story) reads as follows:
“The Bush administration pressed the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block doctors from helping terminally ill patients end their lives...”

Photos of protestors outside the courthouse hold signs with slogans such as "Give me liberty at my death," and "My life, my death, my decision." It is hard to believe that these pro-euthanasia supporters are most often the same ones who support legalized abortion, but oppose the death penalty. Life only holds value to them to the extent that each feels like he or she has this ambiguous "quality of life."

A Cybercast News story has a less biased view, obviously not promoting the euthanasia agenda. From their story, we can see that people no longer believe in biology. At their self-determination, it has become an enemy to life rather than the very ingredients of physical life.

Speaking of war veterans who have suffered injuries while in service and use this as a background for desiring their own euthanasia, Barbara Coombs Lee, a representative of Compassion & Choices (euthanasia movement), vies for legal and socially accepted euthanasia.

"These people all fought valiantly to live. But facing their imminent deaths, they did not want to die in a way that caused them to suffer needlessly, that violated their own deeply held values and beliefs."

In reality, however, it is precisely these people who have experienced death, pain and profoundly spiritual and though-provoking emotions who will be best suited to understand natural death. It is these people who will remember their fallen brothers and how they did not have the beauty of a peaceful natural death, who may not have been able to make their last confession or peace with God. It is these people who will recognize the redemption present in suffering.

On the other hand, Archbishop Celestino Migliore Vatican representative to the UN calls for the development of a society that will integrate the elderly into family life and their community. Catholic News Agency reports on the statements he made to a UN committee yesterday. Here, he said that society should create “a wide range of opportunities to make use of the potential, experiences and expertise of older persons… This approach and attitude will enable [the elderly] both to remain connected to society and to continue to make a mark in the world, whether for volunteerism or work.”

This morning, I was talking with a friend and coworker about the profound experience of watching a loved one die. The reason I was able to watch my grandma (G-ma) die was that she and my grandpa (G-pa) lived with my family. G&G, as they were affectionately known around the house, were as much a part of my family as the siblings and the parents. They contributed in different ways, as appropriate to their age and experience. They never let us forget the beauty and gift of life. They had a deep faith that we all shared. God truly blessed my family by bringing them to live with us in 1997 until their deaths in 2001.

As Rev. Rusty Thomas, widower and father of 10 children, said in a recent Gospel of Life TV program, "Our children are our social security."

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

And the first thing I am going to tell you is, "Don't support the Susan G. Komen Foundation!" While wearing pink and jogging for the cure in your local park seem like positive ways to help women, the organizations behind these events subscribe to an agenda quite contrary to the pro-life message. Not only do they refuse to mention the scientifically proven link between abortion and breast cancer, but the Komen Foundation also donates to the Planned Parenthood, the nations' leading abortion provider.

Operation Rescue celebrated Respect Life Sunday at Denver's Komen event, and there they encountered some angry abortion supporters. Please read their story after reading this post, which will provide some key information about the link between abortion and breast cancer.

One of the leading organizations dedicated to exposing the "ABC" link is the Coalition on Abortion and Breast Cancer.

The ABC Coalition, through their website, outlines the medical correlation between abortion and breast cancer and provides updated information as well as action items.

"Our purpose is to educate women about abortion as a risk factor for breast cancer, help preserve their health and save lives," states the website. "Women have the exclusive right to be decision makers where their own healthcare is concerned."

The ABC Coalition cites nearly 40 studies since 1968 that show how abortion greatly increases the risk of breast cancer. (This was long before the nation-wide legalization of abortion.)

On the other hand, the Komen Foundation, through its statewide affiliates, donates money to Planned Parenthood. While the Komen Foundation designates this money to be used for breast cancer detection exams when give it to Planned Parenthood, there is no certainty that it is not being used to promote the organization's immoral anti-life agenda.

In addition to donating funds to the abortion provider, the Komen Foundation does not recognize the link between abortion and the increase likelihood of developing breast cancer.

While brave enough to mention use of chemical contraceptives as a risk factor, their list fails to mention the instance of abortion as a risk factor.

Yet, they are so bold as to claim that they recognize advances in research. Their website states the following.

"Yet while there have certainly been great advances in our knowledge, it’s still not perfectly understood what ultimately causes breast cancer to develop. It’s likely a combination of risk factors (many of which are still unknown) that together make cells in the breast turn cancerous. But exactly why a certain combination of factors might cause cancer in a particular woman and another combination would not is still unclear."

The cancer itself as well as this cover-up are just show more ways that abortion hurts women.

Here are some ways that you can boycott the Komen celebrations, and promote the pro-life message:
Don't buy Yoplait yogurt or other products that boast of supporting the pro-abortion cause.
Find out who the corporate sponsors of the local Komen group are, and let them know you will boycott them for the month of October.
Put out a pretty pink yard sign with slogans like "Women have the right to know that abortion causes breast cancer."
Write a letter to the editor of your local paper; remember to be factual and concise.
Donate to the Coalition on Abortion and Breast Cancer.